If you feel that your trucking fleet is not 'hitting its markers' with regard to overall efficiency and value for money, you may be scratching your head to work out what is going wrong. You may feel as if you maintain them adequately and on schedule and that you employ the best drivers available to operate the vehicles efficiently. However, you may have overlooked something that many operators frequently miss and may simply need to get each vehicle aligned correctly. What could you be overlooking here?
Alignment is not something that you simply "set" whenever fitting new tyres or wheels and then forget, but is something that should be checked on a very regular basis. It is particularly important whenever using commercial vehicles on a heavy-duty basis, where a considerable number of kilometres are racked up in any given month. Problems in this area do not always manifest themselves clearly and you may have to look for more subtle clues.
If one of your operators were to drive the truck and found it increasingly difficult to maintain a straight line, this is known as "pulling" and it could be to the right or the left. This is a rather obvious sign that there are issues with alignment and that something has fallen out of true. However, the vehicle may not pull in this fashion but the driver may notice that, oddly, the steering wheel does not appear to be perfectly centred when the vehicle is moving in a straight line. This is a more subtle clue that the alignment is out and it will cost you money over time, if you don't do something about it.
Average Wear and Tear?
Usually, poor alignment will cause tyres to wear unevenly and if the misalignment is relatively minor, this can also be difficult to detect. Some people think that any wear is just "normal," but issues due to poor alignment can manifest themselves as uneven wear on the outside or inside of the tyres, rather than what would normally be expected due to average wear and tear.
When a truck is poorly aligned in this way, the engine may have to work that little bit harder in order to achieve the same goal. When this happens, it will also increase your fuel bill and even though these issues may be relatively minor when taken by themselves, they will add up to skew your targets, if you're not careful.
Time for a Check
It pays to take each truck in for a proper truck wheel alignment on a regular basis, to head off this type of issue before it materialises.