If you’re a truck owner, you might have wondered, “How long does a truck alignment take?” Wheel alignments are a crucial maintenance procedure to maximize the lifespan of your tires and optimize your vehicle’s performance. This article will delve into the details of this service, what it involves, and how long it typically takes.
Understanding Wheel Alignment
Wheel alignment is a process that ensures your vehicle’s wheels are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. Over time and with regular driving, your vehicle can gradually come out of alignment. Impacts with potholes, curbs, and other debris can also cause misalignment. When your vehicle is out of alignment, your tires can wear out faster, your fuel mileage can decrease, and your truck can pull to the left or right in severe cases.
What Does a Wheel Alignment Involve?
A wheel alignment involves adjusting three different suspension angles:
- Caster: The caster angle determines the angle of the steering axis. A positive caster angle places the steering axis ahead of the tire contact patch, allowing the wheels to return to the center after a turn and contributing to greater stability while driving. The caster angle is not adjustable on most modern vehicles, but it must be corrected if it’s off due to worn-out components.
- Camber: The camber angle determines the amount of inward and outward tilt the wheels have. A slightly negative camber can positively impact weight distribution while cornering, but too much camber can lead to uneven tire wear due to a smaller contact patch.
- Toe: The toe angle impacts how your vehicle steers and moves down the road. When the toe is out of alignment, your truck can ” drag” one or more of your tires, leading to uneven, rapid tire wear.
How Long Does a Truck Alignment Take?
On average, a wheel alignment for a truck takes around an hour. However, several factors can make the procedure more challenging and time-consuming:
- Vehicle Age: The truck’s age significantly impacts the technician’s time to align it. Suspension components are exposed to extreme temperatures, road salt, water, oil, and debris and are rarely touched. As a result, hardware can become seized to the point of needing to be replaced.
- Type of Vehicle: The type of truck can drastically impact the amount of time required to perform an alignment. Trucks with sport-oriented suspension or classic vehicles that utilize shims to correct the toe and camber can take longer to align. Additionally, high-end or luxury trucks with more adjustable suspension components can also require more time for alignment.
When Should You Get a Truck Alignment?
For preventative maintenance, it’s a good idea to get your truck aligned once a year. However, if you hit a curb, pothole, or large debris or get in an accident, you should have an alignment performed. Additionally, any time the suspension is worked on or modified, such as when installing a lift kit, an alignment must be performed.
A truck alignment is a crucial maintenance procedure that can extend the lifespan of your tires and enhance your vehicle’s performance. While the process typically takes around an hour, several factors can extend this timeframe. Always consult with a trusted automotive technician before and after any significant changes to your truck’s suspension. Happy trucking!