While many operators lease their tyres on a cost per mile basis and so the concern of tyre wear may not be seen as important. But there are other reasons why you should ensure your vehicles (and trailers in the instance of articulated trucks) have their wheel alignment regularly checked.
Misalignment is one of the contributing causes of increased fuel consumption. When wheels are misaligned (and when you can have potentially up to 14 tyres on a tractor and trailer unit) they increase the rolling resistance so more power is needed to keep them rolling. This can only be achieved by putting the ‘pedal to the metal’ and consequently uses a lot more fuel.
Incorrect alignment also can cause the vehicle to pull or drift to one side meaning the driver has to counteract this through the steering wheel. This counter steering adds unnecessary contribution to driver fatigue. In severe cases of misalignment it can make a vehicle’s handling unpredictable in emergency situations. As business owners, with a duty of care to our drivers, these preventable issues should be managed and avoided.
So how do you spot the first signs of misalignment? An increase in fuel consumption is gradual so it is often not noticed and by the time a tyre shows visible signs of misalignment, it is already too late and the damage is done. Lastly, no one wants to find out what might happen if a vehicle was to veer off to one side when braking heavily in an emergency situation. So the only way is ensure the vehicle is set straight is by adopting a proactive approach and having a regular alignment of all the wheels.
What constitutes a regular check? You may be a fleet operator that subcontracts the wheel alignment to a mobile company, but how often is this check performed? Once a year? Every six months? If you really are wanting to take command of minimising costs caused by misalignment then it’s essential that its alignment is checked every time it comes in for a service. Fortunately this needn’t be a hugely time consuming exercise as a Hunter alignment Quick Check can be performed in just four minutes and any misalignment can be spotted at the earliest opportunity, before it becomes an issue.