How to Know If Your Heavy-Duty Truck is Out of Alignment?

When you work in the heavy-duty trucking industry, you need to pay close attention to many critical elements that contribute to the longevity and overall performance of your truck. One of the most important aspects of setting up your vehicle is the wheel alignment, which is integral to the overall health of your truck. Misalignment can cause several other issues, which can range from uneven tire wear to difficulty steering and controlling your rig.

It can be easy to dismiss something like wheel alignment as a trivial matter, but it may be one of the most significant factors contributing to the operation, safety, and efficiency of your truck. We’re going to take a comprehensive look at the role of wheel alignment, how to recognize the signs of misalignment, and what you need to do to correct it. Understanding the needs of your truck more clearly can help you take more significant and meaningful steps to keep your truck on the road longer and have lower maintenance and repair costs.

 

The Importance of Truck Alignment

Wheel alignment plays a pivotal role in the overall performance of your heavy-duty truck, but many people are unaware of precisely how important that role is. When your truck’s wheels are in alignment, they all meet the road at the optimal angle, point straight ahead, and sit squarely in the wheel wells.

This ideal state of perfect alignment ensures that your truck’s tires last as long as possible, providing cost savings over the long-term ownership of the truck. It also works to help fuel efficiency, another crucial factor for heavy-duty truck owners and drivers, given the high fuel consumption associated with heavy-duty trucks pulling large loads. Another benefit of proper alignment is that it helps promote a safe and comfortable driving experience, which enables better vehicle control. 

On the other hand, having your truck’s wheels in misalignment can cause a long list of problems, and is generally detrimental to the truck’s performance as well as your safety. The issues include faster and potentially uneven tire wear, a drop in fuel economy, and more difficult or inconsistent handling. In the most severe cases, misalignment can even cause premature failure of crucial truck components and much higher repair costs.

 

Symptoms of a Misaligned Heavy-Duty Truck

Being able to recognize the signs of misalignment early on can help you minimize repair costs, while also reducing the wear or damage done to other components or systems as a result of misalignment. It will also help reduce downtime and potential safety risks. Here are some of the most common symptoms that your heavy-duty truck is out of alignment:

  • Uneven Tire Wear – Uneven or accelerated tire wear is usually one of the first signs of misalignment and one of the easiest to spot. A quick glance at your tires, when parked, can tell you if they are wearing in a certain pattern or on one side or the other.
  • Difficulty Steering – With a misalignment, you may find that your steering abilities have been reduced and that handling your truck is more challenging. This could be attributed to lack of alignment causing increased friction or stiffness.
  • Your Truck Pulls to One Side – If your truck consistently pulls to one side or the other, particularly when you’re trying to drive straight, it’s a classic sign of alignment issues. This not only diminishes handling but makes accidents more likely since it requires constant correcting.
  • Unusual Vibrations – When heavy-duty truck wheels are misaligned, there is a lot of rubber pulling in slightly different directions. This can create substantial vibrations that can be felt at all speeds but are generally more noticeable at a certain speed range. Not only can the vibration be irritating, and it can also contribute to driver fatigue and additional strain on truck components.

 

Consequences of Ignoring Misalignment

There are significant consequences of letting misalignment go unaddressed. Misalignment puts additional strain on the suspension system, which can cause failing tie rods, ball joints, and shocks. It also reduces fuel efficiency since tires are working against each other. Higher fuel consumption means increased operating costs. On top of that, misalignment can represent a clear safety risk, particularly at higher speeds or in adverse weather or road conditions.

 

How to Check Your Truck Alignment

While you should partner with a professional for an alignment check, there are some checks you can do at home that may help you keep your truck running at peak performance for as long as possible. To check your alignment:

  • Visually check from a level perspective; the tires of your truck should be parallel.
  • Drive straight and check for drift or pulling.
  • Check tire wear patterns at regular intervals. 

 

Day Cab Semi Truck - Blaine BrosWhen to Seek Professional Help With Alignment

Even though you can perform basic checks and troubleshooting yourself, it’s still important to seek professional help if you suspect that your wheels are out of alignment. A professional mechanic will have all of the necessary tools to correct your alignment, along with the training and practical expertise to get it done quickly. They will be able to accurately check the camber caster and toe angles of your heavy-duty truck’s wheels, making sure they all meet the manufacturer’s specifications.

 

Blaine Brothers Can Keep Your Heavy-Duty Truck Aligned & On the Road

Proper alignment is critical to the efficient and safe operation of your heavy-duty truck. It’s not something to be neglected or overlooked. If you suspect misalignment issues, don’t hesitate to get the problem looked at before it gets worse and begins affecting other components.

Blaine Brothers is ready to be your trusted local resource for keeping your truck optimized and on the road. If you believe you may have a misalignment based on the symptoms you’ve seen here, or if it’s just been a while since you’ve had your alignment inspected, it’s probably time for a checkup. Reach out to Blaine Brothers today if you would to make an appointment to have your heavy-duty truck’s alignment inspected or corrected at one of our locations in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Blaine, MN

763.780.5130

10011 Xylite Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55449

Cloquet, MN

218.879.6681

1325 Hwy 45
Cloquet, MN 55720

Clearwater, MN

320.558.9966

750 Heaton BLVD
Clearwater, MN 55320

Baldwin, WI

715.688.2404

2500 Alreich Ave
Baldwin, WI 54002

Truckaline

763.786.8863

9515 150th Avenue NE
Columbus, MN 55025