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Alignment Matters: Taking Vehicle Alignment for Granted Could Cost You

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Alignment Matters: Taking Vehicle Alignment for Granted Could Cost You

Fleet managers failing to tend to their commercial truck maintenance needs can end up costing themselves thousands in unnecessary repairs. One of the most overlooked areas of commercial truck maintenance is managing proper vehicle alignment. A bad alignment can negatively impact every area of your commercial fleet from fuel economy to tire cost. The only way to avoid the deterioration of your commercial trucks is by employing preventative maintenance and ensuring your vehicles are properly aligned.

Why “Close Enough” Doesn’t Cut It

According to experts in alignment product development, failure to maintain proper vehicle alignment can have serious consequences for a fleet’s bottom line. In particular, commercial fleet owners looking to save time by completing just the bare minimum maintenance requirements set by the original manufacturer can end up costing themselves thousands in tire costs due to premature wear, increased fuel consumption due to additional drag, and even mechanical repairs due to increased stress on vehicle components.

While gross misalignment is rare, sometimes a brand new truck can come straight from the manufacturer with an alignment set for disaster. It’s highly recommended that fleet managers take the time to fully inspect their vehicle’s alignment and perform the appropriate tests before their trucks have any miles added onto them or damage incurred. Each truck comes with built-in tolerance from the manufacturer that provides room for variation, but vehicles should always be within spec for safe operation. If you check the truck before using it, you can save time and money by filing a warranty claim with the manufacturer.

Tips for Optimal Tire Alignment

Sometimes the specifications for optimal alignment set by the manufacturer may not always be the best for your truck. Fleet managers looking to increase their tire mileage should explore all of the options available to them as there may be another spec that can provide you with additional benefits for other aspects of your commercial operation.

One alignment-system expert lists his ideal-scenario recommendations as the following:

  • 1/16-inch toe-in
  • < 1/4-degree camber
  • Caster 3.5 degree left, 4 degrees right
  • No setback on front axle
  • Drive axle 90 degrees to the centerline of the vehicle

Fleet managers can make additional tweaks for their ideal alignment, such as fine-tuning to accommodate for the pavement crown if commercial trucks frequently drive on high-crown roads rather than flatter roads. While finding the sweet spot for your truck’s alignment can save fleet managers on unnecessary repair and replacement costs, the best way for fleets to continue to save is by creating a custom commercial truck maintenance plan with a service provider.

STTC for Preventative Commercial Truck Maintenance

At STTC, our team is dedicated to empowering fleet managers with personalized commercial truck maintenance plans designed to help them avoid unnecessary repairs, replacement, and lost profitability. Our team of TIA-certified technicians are specially trained not only in proper vehicle alignment, but in continued tire care, mechanical maintenance, and more. Contact our team today to find out how we can help build a preventative commercial truck maintenance plan for your fleet!

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