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Sick of a Rough Truck Ride and Worn Tires? Try Alignment

A Truck
Costs for tires rank right behind salaries and fuel costs as the third biggest operating expense for many trucking companies. Proper wheel alignment straightens the tires and reduces feathering and other kinds of wear that cause truck tires to fail prematurely. Here are some facts about alignment and your semitruck.

Axles and Tires Should Be Checked Frequently

Many drivers and fleet managers overlook the signs of bad alignment, or they never check for improper wear on tires until it's too late. To prolong the life of your tires, look for signs of misalignment at each preventative maintenance interval. The most obvious sign of misalignment is worn places on one side or section of a tire.

Look for opposite wear patterns on the steer tires. If the outside or inside edges of the left and right steer tires show similar degradation, your alignment may be off. Scrubbed tread on one side of a single tire can mean you need your tires aligned. Worn shoulders on seemingly random tires are another sign that you could use an alignment.

You should routinely inspect tires and axles on both the truck and the trailer. Trailer-axle misalignment is just as bad as misaligned steer or drive axles for tires and your road experience. Inside tires on dual truck assemblies should also be checked for wear.

Alignment Should Be Performed on an Individual Basis

There are two schools of thought when it comes to performing an alignment on a heavy-duty truck or semi. The two theories are:
  1. Trucks should be aligned according to manufacturers' strict specifications.
  2. Trucks should be aligned according to wear and use patterns.
Some experts believe one way is best, while other tire experts say a combination approach is best.

For a brand new truck, the first approach is appropriate. When you have an older truck or a truck that faces special driving challenges, alignment needs to be adjusted to reflect the actual road conditions the tires face.

As trucks and components age, play in the axles, bearings, and other components increases. The extra wiggle room may cause tires to veer outward while rolling down the road. Toeing in the tires slightly can counteract the natural pull outward.

Trucks that regularly drive on slanted or crowned roads may also need adjustments to alignment, since their truck tires may tend to aim to one side or the other on an uneven surface. Tweaking the alignment saves some of the wear on tires from the driver counteracting the veering conditions.

Talk to your alignment specialist about the unique problems you're having with tire wear and steering. Work out an alignment plan that accommodates your truck and your driving environment.

Alignment Won't Solve Every Bad Tire or Hard Ride

There is a multitude of reasons your truck may be knocking, bouncing, or jiggling down the highway. There are just as many reasons why you seem to change out tires more often than a NASCAR pit crew.

Sometimes, you haven't chosen the correct tire for your truck's size and hauling weight. If your truck makes turns in only one direction most of the time, the tires on the turning side can wear faster and cause a rough ride.

Other truck problems that cause excess tire wear and uncomfortable ride issues include:
  • One or more tires out of balance
  • Worn bearings, kingpins, or ball joints
  • Failing shocks
  • Lock-up or catch in steering shaft
  • Loose U-bolts in shaft
Remember that these components are exposed to more movement and rough treatment when your truck is misaligned. However, your truck may be properly aligned but simply need new bearings or balanced tires to give you a smooth ride and longer lasting tires.

Maximize the life of your tires by contacting Odessa Spring Brake & Axle, Inc., today to schedule your truck tire alignment. We offer complete and professional alignment services to truckers who live and drive in the Odessa and Permian Basin areas of Texas.

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