We recommend wheel alignments be done every 120,000 to 160,000 kilometres after the post break-in alignment. Get your alignments done at about the same intervals as replacing steer tires.
We recommend a “post break-in” alignment between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first, for new trucks. The reason you wait is because the break-in period is where vehicles experience the most change in the components affecting alignment. Aligning too early can do more harm than good.
Are you seeing irregular tire wear?
Check alignment if the driver reports steering or handling problems.
Check alignment any time the vehicle has been damaged, or if components that affect alignment have been replaced.
Tire wear problems may show up on steers, but may be coming from the drive or the trailer axles, which can have a huge effect on overall vehicle alignment. Many alignment experts rank drive axles as causing the most trouble, followed by trailer axles, with steer axles last.
Not all shops have the same equipment or attention to calibration. How well trained the technicians are is also a factor in the results.
Once irregular wear starts on a steer or trailer tire, there is no way to counteract it. Unfortunately, it’s just going to continue to get worse. If you put new tires on after you align, they should wear evenly, but your old tires are going to continue to show irregular wear. Also, bear in mind that there’s a difference between a vehicle that’s aligned to “spec” and one that’s aligned to “tire wear.”
The manufacturers establish alignment specs because that’s the result of their experience of what works best, based on average conditions of use. But your conditions may not be “average.” You may haul much heavier or much lighter loads. You may have greater or less road crown along your routes. There are so many operational variables. If you think about road crown, for example, it’s trying to push the vehicle off the road onto the shoulder. If the vehicle were aligned for a perfectly flat road, the driver would have to be constantly applying force to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle on a crowned road. So, alignment specs try to take things like that into account.
A misaligned vehicle wastes rubber, fuel, driver energy and driver attitude – all at the same time. If we consider perfect alignment, where the vehicle and tires are both going in the same direction under load and at normal speeds, a well-aligned truck would waste very little of these things.
Tire wear is the best indicator. Your tires will tell you whether your axles are properly aligned by how long they last. Correct inflation pressure and correct alignment are the two biggest factors in long tire life.
Reputable shops employ only certified technicians. These shops are clean and orderly and they probably came recommended because they will have a solid reputation. A good alignment shop will give you a “Before and After” report that compares settings. In addition to the report, drivers should expect a test drive to look for any change in handling or road feel.
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