Anyone who drives a semi truck must ensure proper alignment to the vehicle.
Alignment promotes fuel efficiency, ensures driver’s safety and overall welfare of a semi truck.
Without proper alignment, tires will not last long, and other costly repairs may occur.
Want to know how to do alignment on a semi truck? Read on and learn more.
Here’s a quick answer on How to do an Alignment on a Semi Truck:
Alignment of a semi truck involves proper positioning, configuration, and adjustments of the front and rear wheels. It requires squaring a semi truck’s axles and wheel to ensure they will move in the same direction. A professional mechanic adjusts suspension angles such as camber, caster, and toe.
What is Alignment on a Semi Truck?
Alignment is a type of automobile maintenance. It consists of a series of axles and tires that keep a semi truck and the tires moving in the same direction.
A professional mechanic performs the procedure to restore the vehicle’s suspension in a proper form and condition.
The process involves adjusting the axles and tire so that the wheel is once again aligned.
The purpose of this vehicle maintenance is to ensure that the vehicle will travel true and straight.
It makes fuel economy better, prolongs tire life, and increases drivability.
Does your Semi Truck need to have an Alignment Done?
Alignment is vital for maintaining a semi truck in good condition.
Whether commercial or not, every semi truck must have regular vehicle alignment for driver and vehicle safety on the road.
A misaligned tire will wear out faster, and the semi truck won’t handle as it should be.
Without regular alignment, the accident risk is high, traction is decreased, and the brake system will be affected.
Is Alignment Done on all Semi Truck Wheels?
Semi truck wheels should undergo regular alignment.
Alignment is not only essential to semi trucks, but to any type of vehicle. It ensures safe and improved driving experience.
Once a truck is used, it’s easy to misalign the tire and wheels. Even a simple curb, slight collision, or frequent use of the vehicle can affect wheel alignment.
If you want to ensure the driver’s safety, alignment should not be taken for granted.
How Often should your Semi Truck get an Alignment?
Regular one-year or 10,000 to 30,000 miles checks are crucial when it comes to semi truck alignment.
However, it’s even better if you’ll have truck alignment service every three months in your semi truck’s life.
Alignment is also necessary as soon as you experience steering problems or irregular tire wheels.
It’s also recommended to check alignment every time a component connected to alignment is replaced or when the truck is damaged.
What causes Misalignment on a Semi Truck?
Poor driving behavior and road condition are the most common causes that make a semi truck alignment difficult.
If the truck is often used off-road or a swiss-cheese style road, the alignment in your vehicle is in trouble.
However, even if it’s used on-road, but you frequently slam the truck wheels on the curb, the tires may be affected, leading to misalignment.
Driving at high speed then suddenly hitting a deep pothole may alter the alignment. It may also cause damage to the steering, shocks, suspension, and other components.
In addition to environmental conditions, poor driving behavior will also damage your tire.
Braking hard, driving fast, and barreling on speed bumps, are the usual driving conditions of a driver that may affect alignment.
How to know if your Semi Truck needs Alignment?
Tire wear problems are the primary culprit of misalignment in semi-trucks.
Commercial trucks are prone to tire wear and damages due to regular use.
Meanwhile, besides tire problems, the following signs are also indicators that your semi truck needs alignment:
- Semi trucks keep pulling to one side while on the road
- Increased vibration while driving
- The steering wheel is difficult to handle
- After experiencing collision or accidents
How to do an Alignment on a Semi Truck
The alignment procedure depends on which wheel or tire is damaged. It could be the front or rear, while the adjusted angles may be the camber, toe, or caster.
In general, the alignment process starts by positioning the semi truck in a flat and debris-free area.
The second step is to set the suspension height as designated in the vehicle’s manual and check alignment tolerances.
If such information is not available, contact the semi truck’s manufacturer for the height setting.
The final step is to check the tire or wheel for any damage. Once the damage is found, repair or replace the component with a new one.
To summarize, the alignment procedure involves:
- Proper positioning of the truck
- Set the suspension height and alignment tolerances
- Check for any tire wear or damage
- Repair or replace the damaged component
What Tools are Needed for Alignment on a Semi Truck?
Typically, the mechanic is responsible for all the tools needed for alignment.
But if you want to do the alignment by yourself, you may need the following tools:
- Tape measure
- Four jack stands
- Camber gauge
- Spool of string
- Arm Shim
How do you Align the Front End of a Semi Truck?
The front-end is the most common type of alignment in a semi truck. It is usually required in modern vehicles.
For front-end alignment, only the front axles need to be aligned. The main areas that are adjusted are the camber, toe, or caster.
The axles and rear wheels are realigned so they would be parallel to the front axles.
How do you Align the Rear Wheels of a Semi Truck?
Rear-wheel alignment is more critical than front wheel alignment.
Without rear wheel alignment, all other wheels of the vehicle will be affected.
As implied in its name, rear-wheel alignment needs adjustment of the rear axles. Like front-end alignment, some adjustments may be on the toe, caster, or camber.
The rear alignment requires readjustment on the rear axles so the thrust line will run in the same direction as the front wheels.
How to do a Toe Alignment on a Semi Truck?
Toe alignment is the forward and backward angle of the tire.
It is essential for tire wear as it may increase the life of the tire.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: On the radius arms under the rear wheels, locate the clamps
Step 2: Loose the clamps while holding the radius arms
Step 3: Adjust the toe by twisting the arm inward and outward.
Step 4: Adjust the front through the tie rod.
Step 5: Loose the clamps found on the tie rod. Adjust the tie rod the same way you adjusted the radius arms.
Step 6. Only adjust one side because the front tires are measured. Measure each turn for precision.
How to do a Caster Alignment on a Semi Truck?
The caster is the angle of the steering axis when a semi truck is a view from the side.
The caster may need alignment once you experience steering tilts while driving the vehicle.
To properly align the caster, follow these steps:
Step 1. Adjust the tire or wheel 20 degrees inward.
Step 2. The caster gauge must have a caster knob. Use this to set the caster to zero.
Step 3. Adjust the caster outward 20 degrees. If you see a negative caster reading, you can fix it by adding a shim to the vehicle’s rear bolt.
How to do a Camber Alignment on a Semi Truck?
Camber is the vertical view of your wheels.
If any of the tires are facing inward or outward, it needs realignment.
Step 1: Mount the camber gauge to the tire. Make sure that it’s in the center and straight.
Step 2: Remove the tire
Step 3: Adjust the upper control arm through the wrench. Estimate how many degrees are necessary for better adjustment.
Step 4: Insert the shims on cross-shaft bolts and frame rail.
What are Good Alignment Results for a Semi Truck?
Any truck driver knows how it feels to drive a new truck. If the driver experience as if he’s driving a new truck, it means that the tire is aligned correctly.
With good alignment, you will no longer experience pulling into the side while driving your vehicle.
You can drive smoothly without any issues with the steering wheel. You will also notice the improvement in the fuel costs.
Check this alignment specification sheet for a freighliner. The perfect result will be to have wheels and axles plumb with zero offsets (refer to target: degrees), however this is not always possible.
In reality, there are some offsets (refer to limit: degrees) that may be acceptable and will ensure minimal wear to your vehicle.
You can view this detailed video below to see how alignment is done on a 2015 Freighliner Cascadia.
How Long does it take to do an Alignment on a Semi Truck?
Semi trucks alignment doesn’t take a while, especially when you hire a professional mechanic. In general, alignment may only take an hour.
The only time it will take long is when you fail to book an appointment with your local mechanic or tire repair shop.
While alignment is considered a “drop-in” service, many mechanics suggest getting a schedule before visiting the shop.
Most shops don’t have much alignment or rack system. As such, you may need to fall in line and wait while the mechanic is attending to another customer.
How much does a Semi Truck Alignment Cost?
The overall cost of semi truck alignment depends on various factors such as model and age of the vehicle, number of wheels, and labor costs.
Typically, a mechanic or local tire shop will charge you $50 to $75 for two-wheel alignment. While 4-wheel alignment will cost you $70-100
The cost can be a bit more when it comes to luxurious semi trucks. The alignment may cost $200 and up.
What are the Best Alignment Centers for your Semi Truck?
Choosing the best alignment centers for your semi truck is a daunting task.
After all, most auto maintenance shops don’t have the best reputations. It’s either they overcharge or recommend unnecessary repairs.
However, we always got your back, and we want the best for you. For the best alignment services in America, you may want to check the following centers:
1. Alignment Center and Alaska Car & Truck
2. Chung’s Alignment and Auto Service
You can also check out Colony Tire & Services if you are situated on the east coast.
They have a number of service centers where you can get your truck alignment done.