At some point, truck fleets and owners-operators might start analyzing whether the alignment of their trucks should be totally delegated to a mechanical workshop that provides this service, but also take the opportunity to receive training and enrich their knowledge on this important maintenance.
For truckers it is very important to know how to fix any defect that a commercial vehicle has, this knowledge is not because they will fix it by themselves, but to be aware of what the mechanic fixes and to know what condition the truck is in. The constant questions that you will ask to your mechanic, as the owner of your truck, are very important, because each knowledge acquired can save you in an emergency.
Improper alignment can cause many problems, such as provoking tire wear, which is the most common problem. Every trucker or small truck fleet should consider the following key truck alignment factors, especially as it relates to tire angle:
I. If they look to their trucks from their front they can visualize the camber, that is the inward or outward angle of a tire. If there is excessively outward or inward tilt, it`s a sign of improper alignment and will be necessary to perform some adjustments. The possible causes could be ball joints, worn bearings, king pin, dampers and others.
II. If they look to their vehicles from above it`s possible to see if the toe protrudes from the hood, which is the measure that tires turn outward and inward. They will require adjustment if:
- Toe-out alignment happens when the edges of the front tires are separated from each other.
- Toe-in alignment happens when edges of the front tires are angled toward each other.
III. If they look to their vehicle from the side they can view the caster, the side angle of the tires, which is crucial for cornering, balanced steering and stability. There are two bad conditions that will require adjustment:
- Positive caster of the tires – It happens when the steering axis is tilted towards the driver.
- Negative caster of the tires – It happens when the steering axis is tilted towards the front of the truck.
There are three types of signs of alignment problems that the driver can detect while driving on the road and will require realignment job:
1- Poor toe alignment – It`s a feathering wear pattern that happens when the tire tread is smooth on one side and by the other side is sharp and well-defined.
2- Camber wear – Is when the tire`s outside or inside is remarkably more worn in comparison with the centerline of tread.
3- Toe and heel wear – It happens when one side of the tread blocks of the tire wears down quicker in a circumferential direction compared to the other side.
It is recommended that every 6 months you check the alignment and balance of your tires, so you will have a good performance of your tires. Ask your mechanic for better maintenance.