The average tractor trailer takes goes over plenty of bumps, curbs and potholes in the line of duty. This type of use is normal, but the stress will slowly pull your axles and tires out of alignment. This can occur anywhere along your tractor trailer, often leading to trailers that drift slightly askew from the tractor.
You might be tempted to ignore the symptoms of misaligned tires, but these four reasons will demonstrate the importance of this routine maintenance.
SHORTENED TIRE PERFORMANCE
The most obvious consequence of a misaligned tractor trailer is extra tire wear. When your tires don't move together correctly, they distribute weight and friction unevenly. This results in tires that wear down faster on one side than on the other. In a standard car, misalignments may make only a minor difference in the life of tires. But when you're on the road all day every day in a larger rig, the miles add up.
Tire maintenance is already one of the major expenses of owning a tractor trailer. If your truck is chewing through tires faster than usual, you may end up spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars more in replacements. Given the potential safety hazards associated with worn tires, this should be enough motivation to ensure your truck will keep moving straight ahead as intended.
DECREASED GAS EFFICIENCY
For truck drivers, fuel economy is just as important as tire durability. You probably already know how tire pressure can improve or reduce your gas efficiency. Tire alignment can have a similar effect. Misaligned axles waste energy, acting as a drag on the rest of the truck instead of contributing fully. This forces the engine to work slightly harder than usual, leading to faster gas consumption overall.
Poor fuel economy should be a primary concern for any commercial truck driver. A difference of only a few percentage points might not mean much for the daily commuter, but it can make a major difference over the course of thousands of miles. Between fuel economy and longer-lasting tires, a routine alignment checkup should essentially pay for itself.
UNCOMFORTABLE DRIVING CONDITIONS
One common symptom of misaligned tires is a vibration in the steering column while driving at high speeds or turning. As your wheels struggle to work together, the minor differences in their alignment push and pull against each other, creating the vibration. This may also occur when suspension equipment is looser than it should be, potentially indicating a more dangerous problem.
This issue might not lead to any monetary losses, but no one wants to sit in a rattling cab for hours at a time. If you are constantly on edge due to a shaking steering column, you may find yourself growing tired more quickly, thus impairing your performance. By the time you're dealing with this particularly annoying problem, you might consider a wheel alignment as a quality-of-life investment.
INCREASED FUTURE REPAIRS
A tractor trailer is designed to run efficiently, so long as its pieces are all in working order. When something isn't right, the whole truck is thrown slightly off balance, and many parts can be impacted. Misaligned axles are especially common in trailers, which often see less maintenance than the tractor itself. Don't forget to have your trailer inspected before setting out on a long trip.
By staying on top of this regular maintenance for your truck, you can save yourself the headache of a dozen more small repairs down the road. The trained experts at S&T Truck Repair will measure your tractor trailer's alignment to the precise degree, ensuring that your truck returns to its optimal specifications. Schedule an appointment with them today to get your truck back to its maximum efficiency.