Wheel alignment is critical to tire life. Proper alignment decreases irregular tire wear and improves tire mileage by decreasing rolling resistance.
According to the Truck-frame & Axle Repair Association website, toe error can shorten tread life by 25% and correct vehicle alignment will improve fuel mileage by one-half to one mile per gallon. Pretty impressive statistics.
Given the importance of proper alignment you would think trucks coming from the factory would have the wheels properly aligned. That is what Bill McAnally, vice president of maintenance for Miller NationaLease, thought too. But then he started seeing customers coming in with irregular tire wear very early in the vehicle’s life. They were not happy.
McAnally, who had already invested in an air inflation tool that allows his technicians to hook up air lines to the tires and read the tire pressure and then to inflate or deflate tires as needed, knew there was some sort of systemic problem.
Practically brand new tires should not be experiencing irregular wear. He began to investigate the possible causes and discovered that trucks were coming from the factory with inaccurate alignments.
His solution to the problem: Perform an alignment check on every new truck. Alignment checks and any needed adjustments are now done as part of the company’s pre-delivery inspection on each and every new truck.
The result: A decrease in the number of drivers bringing their trucks back for irregular tire wear problems soon after taking possession.
While alignment checks take time, McAnally says they are worth it because customer complaints about irregular wear in new vehicles have decreased.
If you’re noticing irregular wear early in a tire’s life, take a few minutes to check the alignment.