Fleet Maintenance - 18
How to evaluate
a vehicle alignment
What to consider when
looking for a qualified
By Kayla Oschmann
If a fleet is unable to perform alignment
services in-house, it is important to evaluate local providers when outsourcing
in order to determine their ability to perform a proper total vehicle alignment.
Similar to researching equipment for their
own shop, fleets should do the same for
a potential outsourced service provider.
Consider the following items to ask:
* What brand and model of gauging equipment do they use?
* What features does the gauging equipment have?
* How long has the shop been
using this equipment?
* Does the shop have any service comebacks? In other words, how often have
trucks returned due to bad alignment?
"[Fleets] want to look for a shop with a good
reputation, knowledgeable technicians,
high-quality equipment, and a capability to
address issues with all truck axles, not just
the front axles," says Steve Lemnah, heavy
duty product manager at Hunter Engineering
Company. "Turnaround is also important."
"Are the technicians conscientious and do
they understand what they are reading on
the screen and how it relates to the truck?"
adds John Knutson, technical support and
warranty manager at Hendrickson.
The Technology & Maintenance Council
(TMC) Recommended Practice (RP) 642,
Total Vehicle Alignment: Recommendations
for Maximizing Tire and Alignment-related
Component Life, states all alignments are not
created equal and to pick a shop that relies
upon repeat business, not drive-by sales.
TMC RP 642 also suggests asking the service
provider if their alignment technicians are certified, do they offer value-added services such
as tire rotation or vehicle pickup and delivery,
or whether they have vibration analysis, balancing, truing, suspension, and spring services?
To know whether the alignment was
indeed effective, the proof is in the tires.
Tire wear performance doesn't lie.
18 Fleet Maintenance | March 2020
states an alignment should be done every 80,000
to 100,000 miles, or any time a component that
affects alignment is replaced, the vehicle should
TMC RP 642 also suggests a "post break-in"
alignment check should occur between 15,000
and 30,000 miles but no later than 90 days after
the vehicle goes into service.
Potholes, curbs, rough roads, and excessive
loading can cause a vehicle to go out of alignment,
says Steve Lemnah, heavy duty product manager
at Hunter Engineering Company, a manufacturer
of alignment systems and wheel and tire service.
Indications that a vehicle is out of alignment
may include uneven tire wear, the vehicle pulling to one side, increased fuel consumption, or
an off-center steering wheel when the vehicle is
being operated in a straight direction.
"Typically, the first thing that will show up is
tire wear," says John Knutson, technical support
and warranty manager for heavy duty vehicle
suspension system and component provider
Hendrickson. "Incorrect alignment can force the
tires to scrub against each other and break traction resulting in increased horsepower demands
and higher fuel consumption."
"Vehicle alignment ultimately affects cost per
mile," Knutson adds.
A vehicle out of alignment also greatly affects
the driver. Drivability can become difficult, and
the driver may experience fatigue trying to keep
the truck straight while going down the road.
Being able to complete maintenance and repair
services on-site within the fleet's own shop offers
not only a great deal of convenience for both the
technician and driver, but it also provides significant benefits for fleets in general. For alignments,
there are two main advantages: control and cost.
Fleets are able to have tighter control over
how the total vehicle alignment is handled. This
includes factors such as who completes the service
including whether that person is properly trained,
»»When fleets bring alignment in-house, they
have tighter control on quality, how the work
is handled, proper training for technicians, and
flexibility with scheduling of the service.
Photo courtesy of Bee Line Company
When fleets establish
an in-house vehicle
alignment program, it
can not only provide
also cost savings
the additional flexibility with service scheduling,
and quality control.
"With [total vehicle alignment] being in-house,
[fleets] don't have to take the vehicle out and deliver it somewhere. They don't have to take up the
time of a driver to take it there and either wait for
it or drop it off and be out of service that whole
time," says Howard Williams, corporate technical
sales specialist at Bee Line Company. "Whereas,
if in-house, they can bring [the vehicle] in, get it
done while the driver is doing his break, and get
it back out. They control the situation."
Bee Line Company is a manufacturer of computer laser wheel alignment, on-truck tire balancing,
and frame correction equipment for heavy duty
trucks and trailers.
"It also ensures a vehicle alignment is getting
done on a regular basis and they know how it's
being done," Williams adds.
Additionally, outsourced alignment service can
cost more for fleets.
"When a truck is sublet out for [an alignment],
there are additional costs involved such as labor
times to deliver the truck and pick it up, added
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance
Uptime: Get Involved
The Role of Composites in Heavy Duty Trucking
Best Practices to Establish a Total Vehicle Alignment Program
Document Management in the Digital Age
Smoke Out Cabin Leaks
Four Keys to a Successful Extended Drain Interval Program
Management: Be Aware of Maintenance Scheduling Challenges in the Shop
Training: What Does Trucking Have to Do With STEM?
Fleet Parts & Components
Tools & Equipment
Guest Editorial: The Ripple Effect of Unplanned Downtime
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - Uptime: Get Involved
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - The Role of Composites in Heavy Duty Trucking
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - 12
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - Best Practices to Establish a Total Vehicle Alignment Program
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - 18
Fleet Maintenance - A1
Fleet Maintenance - A2
Fleet Maintenance - A3
Fleet Maintenance - A4
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - 20
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - Document Management in the Digital Age
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - 24
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - 26
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - Smoke Out Cabin Leaks
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - Four Keys to a Successful Extended Drain Interval Program
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - 32
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - Management: Be Aware of Maintenance Scheduling Challenges in the Shop
Fleet Maintenance - Training: What Does Trucking Have to Do With STEM?
Fleet Maintenance - Fleet Parts & Components
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - 38
Fleet Maintenance - 39
Fleet Maintenance - 40
Fleet Maintenance - 41
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - 44
Fleet Maintenance - 45
Fleet Maintenance - 46
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - 48
Fleet Maintenance - Classifieds
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: The Ripple Effect of Unplanned Downtime
Fleet Maintenance - 51
Fleet Maintenance - 52
Fleet Maintenance - B1
Fleet Maintenance - B2