How often should you perform a wheel alignment on heavy vehicles?

6 pointers on when to carry out this important maintenance

Ensuring the correct wheel alignment for your fleet can shave up to 3% off fuel costs and up to 20% off tyre wear – a figure that will have a significant effect on your bottom line.

That’s why it’s important to carry out wheel alignments as often as practical.

Whether you perform wheel alignments in-house or rely on external contractors, there are a number of key moments when you should consider carrying out an alignment.

In partnership with our supplier JOSAM, the Levanta team have put together this guide to when and why you should think about carrying out a wheel alignment on commercial vehicles.

1) When fitting new tyres

Contrary to popular belief, existing tyre wear cannot be fixed by carrying out an alignment. If a tyre is worn it cannot be retrieved, and an alignment is unlikely to prolong the tyre’s lifespan.

Essentially, it is pointless carrying out an alignment check on a worn tyre unless the wear is in its very early stages. Instead, you should carry out an alignment whenever you fit new tyres.

2) After changing steering components

Replacing steering components, drag links, track bars, ball joints and the like can all throw a vehicle’s wheels out of alignment. Counting threads can be wildly inaccurate, which means it’s better to replace steering components and carry out a full alignment.

You should also take particular care when adjusting or upgrading chassis lengths as this can seriously alter the vehicle’s Ackermann angles.

3) Prior to commercial HV inspections

The stringent criteria for commercial Heavy Vehicle inspections mean they often have to go through vigorous checks prior to being sent for inspection. It’s an ideal time to carry out a wheel alignment.

At an absolute minimum, you should carry out an alignment check at least once per year. Some clients have even benefited significantly from carrying out a three month check and adjustments, experiencing better handling and dramatically extended tyre wear.

4) During pre-delivery inspections

Often demanded by OEMs or fleet operators to optimise their new vehicle for Australian road conditions, pre-delivery inspections can be the perfect opportunity for a complete and accurate alignment check.

A pre-delivery inspection also gives your workshop a chance to pre-empt any tyre wear issues that could potentially be claimed on warranty.

You should also carry out a ‘post-break in’ alignment at between 20,000 and 40,000 kilometres or 3 months, whichever comes first.

5) In response to driver complaints

Quite often an off-centre steering wheel or ‘pull’ can be due to misaligned wheels. Driver issues or complaints can reveal vital information which, when combined with an alignment, can help diagnose issues.

While a driver’s issues won’t always be down to alignment, it’s a good chance to perform an alignment to at least identify or rule it out as a cause.

A properly aligned vehicle reduces driver fatigue and provides far safer and more reliable handling in the event of an emergency braking or manoeuvring event. What’s more, with wheel misalignment a combination or multi-combination (as we often have in Australia) becomes a very unwieldy vehicle at speed.

The sight of a swaying trailer and scrubbing wheels might be common, but when it’s your hard-earnt brand displayed on the vehicle it’s more than simply a performance issue. Your brand’s reputation could be at stake – not to mention the unwanted attention you may draw from the authorities.

6) Carrying out an alignment proactively

Many workshops carry out wheel alignments only once tyre wear issues have been identified. The problem with this approach of course is that it’s too late in most cases to save the tyres.

An alternative approach is to carry out wheel alignments proactively, to identify and rectify potential problems before they arise and cause damage.

Talk to Levanta for advice on heavy vehicle wheel alignments

Performing wheel alignments at least once per year – and preferably 3-4 times a year on all of the occasions listed above – will help to prevent any issues for your heavy vehicle fleet.

For more advice and information on wheel alignments for Heavy Vehicles, get in touch with Levanta on 1300 577 541 or with your local office’s contact forms here.