If you have owned a truck for some time and are only hearing about truck wheel alignment now, you need to make a trip to your mechanic's garage and have your wheels checked for alignment. It is especially the case if your truck is always on rough roads. Some of the benefits of tire alignment include better handling, improved tire performance and longer-lasting wheels. Most importantly, this is the time to get familiar with the wheel alignment procedure. This article highlights critical areas of concern for mechanics during a wheel alignment.
The first and arguably the most crucial area your mechanic will look at is the camber. It refers to the inward or outward angle on the wheels, and it can be spotted from the front of the truck. During the inspection, the mechanic will look for negative or positive camber. If the tires have too much inward tilt, then you have yourself a negative camber. Excessive outward tilt indicates negative camber. The main contributors for camber misalignment include worn out bearings, ball joints and other suspension parts. Therefore, the next time you look at your truck and notice an inward or outward tilt, you should know the type of adjustment your truck needs.
In-wheel alignment, the caster is arguably the most complicated to conceptualise for most truck owners. It refers to the angle created by the shifts in the forward or backward slope in relation to the steering pivot point and can either be negative or positive. A negative caster occurs when the line drawn from the steering pivot slopes backward, while a positive caster is when the line slopes forward. Ideally, a positive caster helps a truck to stay stable, especially at high speeds. However, it increases tire lean when cornering and increases steering effort. Due to its complexity, most trucks are equipped with a cross-caster, which acts as a safety feature. It enables vehicles to drift to the side, thereby avoiding oncoming traffic.
The last area your mechanic will look at is the wheels' toe. Toe angle refers to the direction the wheels are pointed, vis-à-vis the centerline of the vehicle. However, unlike camber misalignment, which is easily noticeable with the naked eye, a toe-in or toe-out requires specialised equipment. That is why it is impossible to determine if your truck's toe angle is off from your home garage. Moreover, the only way a mechanic can inspect your truck's toe alignment is if the vehicle is elevated. The position gives a clear view of how the wheels are angled. If the tires angle inwards towards the centre of the car, it is referred to as a toe-in. If, on the other hand, the tires appear to angle away from the centerline, then you have a classic case of toe-out, and alignment is mandatory.