Every year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducts a 72-hour safety blitz called Roadcheck. This year it is taking place from June 4-6. And while CVSA officials say they will be conducting Level 1 inspections just as they do during any routine roadside inspection, they also announced that they would be putting a little more attention on steering and suspension systems.
Jay Thompson, chief of the Arkansas Highway Patrol and president of CVSA, explains that steering and suspension are important to vehicle safety because they support the loads the vehicle is carrying and provide stability and control during acceleration and braking. In addition, these systems help keep tires aligned, and properly aligned tires are less likely to fail.
In addition to putting in place a fleet-wide campaign to inspect the steering and suspension systems on all your vehicles prior to this year’s Roadcheck, now is a good time to remind drivers of things they should look and listen for that will let them know there may be a problem with the steering or suspension system
It is important to remember that not all steering and suspension problems will be obvious by merely doing a visual inspection. When a truck is in the shop for its regularly scheduled maintenance or for a repair, have your technicians check tolerances on steering and suspension components to make sure they are within the specified range. Anything that is outside of tolerance needs to be closely examined for root cause and repaired to ensure the component is back in line with the manufacturer’s suggested tolerances and specifications.
Telltale signs of steering and suspension issues include:
- Unusual noise when turning, applying the brakes, accelerating or driving over bumps
- Excessive play or binding in the steering wheel
- The vehicle wandering, pulling to one side, or back and forth while being driven
- Rough steering or vibration
- A vehicle leaning to one side
- Uneven tire wear
Although 2019 Roadcheck is several months away, it is not too soon to start paying a little extra attention to your steering and suspension systems. The law enforcement personnel conducting these inspections during Roadcheck won't hesitate to take a truck out of service if they find a serious violation. During last year’s event, nearly 12,000 trucks and drivers were taken out of service. You don’t want to be in that number this year.