1. Abnormal Noises
When your truck gets out of alignment, its parts may rub abnormally against each other or the road. Noises related to alignment usually come from the vehicle's front end. You may hear whining, scraping or grinding.
If you notice these noises, pull off and check for any obvious causes such as an out-of-place mud flap. If you do not see any alternate explanations, these noises could signal excessive friction, especially between your tyres and the road, caused by misalignment.
2. Decreased Gas Mileage
When you drive frequently, you get to know your truck. You know how wide it turns, how quickly it brakes and how long you can go between each fill up. Misalignment changes the way your truck functions. You may notice this change first in your gas mileage.
Misalignment causes parts to rub against each other (as we discuss above). This slows your truck down and reduces fuel efficiency. If you notice this sign, especially combined with any other on this list, inspect the alignment.
3. Drifting to One Side
You can easily get an idea of your truck's alignment while driving on a straight, flat stretch of road. If you let go of the wheel, your truck should continue in a fairly straight line. But if it drifts quickly to either side, this indicates an alignment problem.
4. Pulling to One Side
Acute alignment problems change the way your truck handles. If you have a severe misalignment, you may notice passive drifting (as we discuss above), accompanied by active pulling to the right or left.
This may make precision steering more difficult. If you find yourself hitting potholes you should have missed as in our hypothetical situation, your truck may be out of alignment.
5. Steering Wheel Vibration
The friction caused by misalignment doesn't just affect how much fuel you use. It may also make portions of your truck vibrate.
Most commonly, this vibration occurs in the steering wheel or steering column. In most situations, the vibration becomes more intense during situations that require precise handling, like downhill grades.
6. Uncentred Steering Wheel
You don't even have to let go of your wheel to notice a misalignment. On your next long, straight road, take a look at your wheel.
It should sit completely centred. If you have to turn the wheel to either side for your truck to travel a straight line, you have a problem.
7. Uneven Tyre Wear
When your truck stays properly aligned, your tyres wear evenly. But even a small misalignment can grind down a specific portion of the tread while leaving other spots untouched. If you notice uneven wear or have to discard your tyres frequently, check your alignment. A single alignment procedure could potentially double your tyres' life span.
While some of these problems can stay minor for some time, they can also become dangerous quickly and unpredictably. When you notice any of the signs listed above, take your truck in for an alignment.
Even if you don't notice these signs, you should have your alignment checked once every year, especially if you frequently haul heavy loads. You should also have your alignment checked each time you fit your truck with new tyres as this prolongs the life of your tyres.
For more information about wheel alignment or to have your alignment checked, contact your mechanic or an alignment specialist.