Improper wheel alignment is a serious issue on just about any vehicle and especially aggravated on any used dump truck. When the wheels are misaligned, it can compromise the vehicle’s handling. Drivers will have to work constantly on the steering wheel just to keep the vehicle on a straight line. It could also compromise the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, component wear and even driver fatigue. Worst of all, it is certainly a contributing factor in road accidents.
If you feel that your truck doesn’t handle as well as you think it should or as well as it used to, don’t just ignore it. You are looking at an early sign of improperly aligned wheels. In this article, let me show you some of the common early signs of misaligned wheels.
Causes of Improper Wheel Alignment
Improper wheel alignment can be caused by several factors. Frequently, the problem involves the truck’s steering system, involving poorly adjusted or worn out tie rod joints, worn out wheel bearings, bent rims, broken front suspension, etc. The truck could also be suffering from tandem axle and/or trailer misalignment. Although it usually requires an expert to pinpoint the cause of the actual problem, it’s pretty easy to tell when your truck has wheel alignment problems when handling the vehicle.
Driving Symptoms of Improper Wheel Alignment
Following is a list of driving symptoms that could indicate improper wheel alignment on a used dump truck:
Heavy Steering – Does your steering wheel feel heavy even when driving your truck with no load? Have you ever experienced any sudden vibration on the steering wheel when driving at certain speeds? Watch out! That is one of the most common signs of wheel misalignment.
Truck pulls to one side – Have you ever noticed constantly turning the steering wheel just to keep the truck traveling in a straight line? If you do, then your truck could have misaligned wheels. A used dump truck that is pulling either to the left or right when driving on a paved road is a sign of improper wheel alignment.
Excessive over-steer or under-steer – Does the steering wheel feel unresponsive or does it respond too quickly than it normally would every time you make a turn? If the truck’s steering doesn’t respond normally, don’t just overlook it. Excessive over-steer or under-steer can be caused by misaligned wheels.
Visual Signs of Improper Wheel Alignment
Aside from the truck’s actual handling, it’s also easy to notice signs of improper wheel alignment on a used dump truck by inspecting in particular the front wheels. Wheel misalignment causes the rubber to wear out much faster than normal and leaves an odd and uneven worn out pattern on the tires.
Uneven tread – Using a coin, measure the depth of the tread on each tire. Measure it going from the inside to the outside of the tire. If the tread is deeper on one side than the other, there is a clear sign that your truck has wheel alignment problems. Normally, the tread should wear evenly throughout the surface of the tire.
Saw-tooth wear – Run the palm of your hands across the tread of the wheels and then back again. The tread should feel smooth both ways. If you feel a jagged texture in one direction, then the wheel could be wearing evenly due to improper wheel alignment.
If you encounter any of these problems on your used dump truck, don’t ignore it. Improperly aligned wheels can damage the rest of the steering system including the suspension. Have your truck checked by a qualified wheel alignment specialist to correct the problem. Dealing with improper wheel alignment before it gets worse will spare you from much more expensive repairs, break-down or road accident in the future.