Commercial Truck & Bus Alignment
When should a new truck be aligned?
The Bridgestone and the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) recommended Practice RP 642A-2 suggests a “post break-in” alignment between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. The reason you wait is because the break-in period is where vehicles experiences the most change in the components affecting alignment. Aligning too early can do more harm than good. TMC recommends subsequent alignments be done every 80,000 to 100,000 miles after the post break-in alignment. Get your alignments done at about the same intervals as replacing steer tires.
What are the top reasons to check alignment?
Check alignment if you observe irregular tire wear. Check alignment is the driver reports steering or handling problems. Check alignment any time the vehicle has been damaged, or if components that affect alignment have been replaced.
Where do alignment problems originate?
Commercial tire wear problems may show up on steers, but may be coming from the drive or the trailer axles, which can have a huge effect on overall vehicle alignment. Many alignment experts rank drive axles as causing the most trouble, followed by trailer axles, with steer axles last.
Why do different shops get different alignment results?
Not all shops have the same equipment or attention to calibration. How well trained the technicians are is also a factor in the results.
Should good alignment eliminate irregular wear?
Once irregular wear starts on a steer or trailer tire, there is no way to counteract it. Unfortunately, it’s just going to continue to get worse. If you put new tires on after you align, they should wear evenly, but your old tires are going to continue to show irregular wear. Also, bear in mind that there’s a difference between a vehicle that’s aligned to “spec” and one that’s aligned to “tire wear.”
How should you interpret alignment specs?
The manufacturers establish alignment specs because that’s the result of their experience of what works best, based on average conditions of use. But your conditions may not be “average.” You may haul much heavier or much lighter loads. You may have greater or less road crown along your routes. There are so many operational variables. If you think about road crown, for example, it’s trying to push the vehicle off the road onto the shoulder. If the vehicle were aligned for a perfectly flat road, the driver would have to be constantly applying force to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle on a crowned road. So, alignment specs try to take things like that into account.
Why does alignment matter?
A misaligned vehicle wastes rubber, fuel, driver energy and driver attitude – all at the same time. If we consider perfect alignment, where the vehicle and tires are both going in the same direction under load and at normal speeds, a well-aligned truck would waste very little of these things.
So how do we know if our trucks are truly properly aligned?
Tire wear is the best indicator. Your tires will tell you whether your axles are properly aligned by how long they last. Correct inflation pressure and correct alignment are the two biggest factors in long tire life.
What should you expect from a proper alignment service?
Reputable shops employ only certified technicians. These shops are clean and orderly and they probably came recommended because they will have a solid reputation. A good alignment shop will give you a “Before and After” report that compares settings. In addition to the report, drivers should expect a test drive to look for any change in handling or road feel.