If you take your family car into a tyre fitting shop to buy new covers, you may notice how much time the fitter takes to align all the angles for the best effect. However, that's because they want to ensure your new tyres last as long as possible and that your vehicle is safe and easy to drive. Now imagine how much more difficult this is to achieve when it comes to a heavy-duty truck. Here, in addition to safety and ease, an operator will need to consider their all-important bottom line. What is one of the biggest problems facing a truck owner regarding wheel alignment, and why is it essential to fix these issues as soon as they arise?
A heavy-duty truck will have more than two axles. It is crucial to ensure that each axle is regularly checked for accuracy, not just when new tyres are fitted. After all, a large and heavy vehicle like this can certainly encounter problems associated with poor road conditions. Those ever-present potholes may affect more than one wheel, and the steering and suspension geometry may soon fall out of true alignment.
When this happens, it is not unusual for the vehicle to suffer from what is known as excessive "thrust." This can cause the driving axle to push the vehicle sideways when it is in motion, and the driver will need to make constant adjustments to the steering wheel.
If you imagine a line drawn from the centre of the driving axle and perpendicular to the direction of travel, you will have a neutral thrust angle. This is ideal, but unfortunately, road conditions, minor accidents or worn components can affect this angle. When the driving axle is no longer parallel to the other axles, this can affect the wheelbase. The axles and wheels will no longer align, and this can cause issues at all corners.
Toeing the Line
Essentially, the "toe" angle measurements along that driving axle must be equal. If not, the axle will influence the standard position of the front wheels. It doesn't matter how accurately you align the front suspension in this situation, as the driving axle will still push the vehicle offline. This will cause excessive tyre wear, and individual components will also begin to deteriorate. Vehicle operation will suffer, resulting in a higher annual maintenance bill.
If you are responsible for managing and maintaining a heavy-duty truck, get the vehicle aligned regularly. Make sure that the all-important thrust angle is always correct. To learn more, contact a truck wheel alignment service.