Alignment training hits home, improves up-time

Alignment training hits home, improves up-time

More than 200 independent service professionals gathered earlier this year to learn more about commercial vehicle axle alignment.

More than 200 independent service professionals gathered earlier this year to learn more about commercial vehicle axle alignment.

Hosted by training veterans from Meritor and Hendrickson, the hands-on teaching session “hit home” with the pros, as they learned significant new information and strongly recommended a technical session be repeated in 2014 during Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week.

The single most important element of alignment is proper wheel bearing adjustment, according to Rick Martin, training manager at Meritor. It’s often said that if you asked 10 technicians about wheel bearing adjustment, you could hear 10 different opinions. One telltale sign of unattended wheel bearing adjustment is dust on the torque wrench and the dial indicator—two important tools that must be used every time to operate properly adjust wheel end bearings, according to Martin.

“Technicians are deserving of more training and attention on the proper wheel-end procedures, and in many cases, they’re simply not measuring anything and relying on feel,” said Martin. With a recommended wheel bearing end-play of 0.001-in. to 0.005-in., technicians should follow the TMC RP-618 procedure to the letter, he added.

As for tire wear diagnostics, most technicians automatically blame the front axle when a complete diagnosis is called for. Look at the tire wear pattern—some are very normal wear patterns, while other patterns are clear indicators of a problem. It’s strongly recommended that fleet asset managers pay close attention to TMC’s Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide and the soon-to-be-released Recommended Practice, as produced by Study Group 6.

Pre-alignment maintenance inspection checks for condition and wear should include: cold tire pressure, Pitman arm, draglink, steering arm, tie rod ends, cross tube, kingpin bushing, wheel bearing end-play, tire and wheel runout—lateral and radial, and suspension torque roads and bushings.

Axle alignment is necessary to set the wheels/tires in the optimum position for maximum tire performance. The axle should be aligned in a static position so that at vehicle operation, the wheels and tires are in an optimum position with the road surface. Martin emphasized the importance of adjusting steer axle toe to compensate for steering component deflection, to reduce wear to the leading tire edge and to avoid road wander.

The session covered the importance of also checking trailer axle alignment, since in many cases, the trailer is a “forgotten member of the family.” Its alignment is a function of three parameters: axle orientation (adjustable), axle camber (non-adjustable), and axle toe (non-adjustable).

As the technicians heard at the HDAW session, trailer axle orientation is the positioning of the axle assembly relative to the vehicle on which it is installed (and to the kingpin). On a single-axle vehicle, the axle is positioned relative to the vehicle. On a multiple-axle vehicle, the front axle is positioned relative to the vehicle, and then the remaining axles are positioned so they are parallel to this axle.

One overriding tip on attending all equipment training sessions: take notes and use and reference the maintenance manuals, which detail proper procedures to ensure uptime and component performance.
“It’s hard to remember all the instructors’ tips and pointers in a training session, especially since a typical technician might have 8-10 different jobs in-process at any one time,” Martin said.

Both of the sessions’ instructors recommended that fleet technicians make full use of the component manufacturers’ maintenance manuals (all are online) and TMC Guidelines for Total Vehicle Alignment and Troubleshooting Ride Complaints (both at

You May Also Like

Hexagon Agility, Brudeli announce CNG/RNG system integration with PowerHybrid technology

The setup enables the powertrain to switch between hybrid modes, providing flexibility for fleets to operate with different energy options.

Hexagon Agility and Brudeli Green Mobility announced a collaboration integrating Hexagon Agility’s CNG/RNG systems with Brudeli's plug-in PowerHybrid technology.

Brudeli says its PowerHybrid allows long-haul trucks to operate up to 80% electric energy, utilizing a dual electric motor system. The setup enables the powertrain to effortlessly switch between serial and parallel hybrid modes, allowing the truck to operate in the most efficient mode as vehicle speed, load, driving patterns, and battery charge level vary.

Volvo Trucks 2014 engines improve fuel economy

Integral to the enhanced fuel efficiency benefits are multiple optimized or new engine components.

Carrier Transicold introduces XtendFRESH atmosphere control technology

Carrier Transicold said its new XtendFRESH container atmosphere control system uses innovative technologies to help maintain the quality of shipped produce, while extending shipping distances to enable growers reach new customers. The XtendFRESH system actively controls oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and removes ethylene, a hormone given off by ripening produce that will accelerate ripening if left unchecked.

Ford installs 500,000th 6.7-liter power stroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine

Ford announced the installation of its 500,000th 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine, which went into a new 2014 Ford Super Duty F-350 Lariat pickup truck. The engine was installed at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

Michelin Retread Technologies launches XDS 2 pre-mold retread

An all weather traction retread, optimized for severe winter conditions, has been introduced by Michelin Retread Technologies. The Michelin XDS 2 Pre-Mold drive tire retread, according to the company, can provide a 10% improvement in tread life over the XDS Pre-Mold.

Other Posts

Ford to provide charging infrastructure for city of Dallas

As part of the agreement, Dallas will install Ford Pro chargers at city worksites and use Ford Pro smart charging software.

Accelera showcases new technology at ACT Expo

“We now have over 1.5 billion miles in the field on our e-mobility products,” Amy Davis, president of Accelera, said.

ACT Expo 2024 kicks off

Day one keynote speeches came from executives at Volvo, Tesla, and more.

Noregon TripVision now covers medium-duty vehicles

According to Noregon, the update brings TripVision’s remote diagnostics to medium-duty brands including Ford, GM, Sprinter, Isuzu and Hino.