There’s a lot that goes into keeping your vehicles in good shape.
With so much attention placed on the high-profile elements (like the brakes, the tyres, and the emissions) it’s easy to overlook the smaller details that can have a huge impact.
But there’s one part of vehicle servicing that should never be ignored – and it could be costing you a lot more money than you think.
Here’s why every fleet and workshop needs to pay more attention to its vehicles’ wheel alignment:
1. It’s wasting your fuel
If you’ve ever been injured and walked with a limp (or had to walk across rocky ground), you’ll know just how tiring it gets. Your body isn’t using its natural, efficient motion – and you’re forced to use up extra energy to compensate and calibrate for the problem.
And that’s exactly what can happen with your vehicles.
When the wheels of a vehicle aren’t properly aligned, it means they’re not working together as a team.
In fact, they could even be working against each other – pushing and pulling in different directions as you drive, turn, accelerate, and brake.
All of that extra resistance adds up (especially over the longer journeys made by lorries, coaches and LCVs). Your vehicle’s engine needs to put in extra work to push past that resistance – and that means it uses more fuel to travel the same distances and keep up the same speeds.
2. It’s wearing down your tyres
That extra push and pull creates problems for your fuel.
But it’s a physical problem, too – putting excess strain and friction on your tyres with every unnecessary force.
Good quality tyres are built to last. But they’re designed to be robust within a specific set of conditions. When your wheels are out of alignment, you won’t always have the strongest parts of the tyre taking the heaviest burden.
Instead, you’ll be putting strain on the parts of the tyre that were never intended to take that much stress. Over longer periods of time, those weaker parts of the tyre will suffer wear and tear much faster than if you had your wheels properly aligned – and that means shelling out sooner for a new set of tyres.
Which brings us neatly onto the next crucial point:
3. It’s affecting your grip on the road
We all know that tyres are expensive. And the extra wear and tear from poor alignment only makes those costs more frequent.
But there’s a secondary problem to damaged tyres – and that’s reducing the tyre treads that make driving safe.
Without the proper alignment, you could be grinding down the treads on your tyres faster, increasing the chances of an accident with one of your vehicles.
That’s a safety issue with potentially devastating consequences – and we don’t need to tell you that it’s something you want to avoid!
But even beyond the importance of your drivers’ well-being, there are huge potential costs to an avoidable accident. There’s the cost of damaged vehicles, the cost of the cargo, and even the potential for legal action taken against your business.
So if safety is a priority (and it should be!), the cost of a wheel alignment could pay for itself many times over in comparison to the alternatives.
4. It’s making your drivers uncomfortable
Poor wheel alignment isn’t just a problem for the vehicle.
It’s a problem for your drivers, too – affecting the suspension of the vehicle and the motion of the carriage.
That might not come with an obvious direct cost. But if you’ve already got teams out on the road for hours at a time, driving heavy loads over hundreds of miles, their well-being and happiness has a direct effect on your business.
Your drivers need full focus to do their jobs safely. They need a distraction-free ride to hit their targets on time. And if you want happy and healthy workers who don’t resent their everyday jobs, you need to give them vehicles that won’t drive them mad along the way.
5. It’s messing with your steering
Remember all that pushing and pulling that was affecting your fuel and your tyres?
It’s doing a lot more than just that. It’s creating problems with the steering and handling of the vehicle.
Sometimes it’s a simple vibration of the steering wheel. Or sometimes your driver can feel a bit too much ‘play’ in the wheel – as if the steering wheel feels looser than it should be when they’re turning.
But the most serious problem caused by poor wheel alignment is the drift.
Wheels that are out of alignment can cause the steering to constantly pull to the one side, which means your drivers are constantly having to correct for a sideways motion.
At best, it’s a frustrating experience that can lead to driver fatigue over a long period of time.
But at worst, it could lead to an accident in a momentary lapse of focus – pulling one of your vehicles out of their lane, or even off the road completely.
(And we don’t need to tell you how much that could cost – both financially and emotionally!)
Get the tools you need to keep your costs down and your drivers safe
There’s no doubt about it – proper wheel alignment can save you money.
But wheel alignment services can be costly themselves. So if you really want to get the most bang for your buck, you can bring your wheel alignment checks in-house with a dedicated set of tools for the purpose.