The ability to notice things that are off is a great way to discover a problem before it becomes one. This isn't always applicable, but it happens often enough for things like cars. Some drivers develop a sense for the subtle or less overt indications that their truck isn't quite right.
For the rest of us, it's something we have to learn little by little. This is true particularly for things like wheel alignment. Truck wheel alignment isn't something people make a habit of checking.
Most of the time, early detection of misaligned wheels is a matter of noticing things. It'll be in the way it drives most of the time. This isn't to say that any change in how a truck drives is the fault of bad alignment. Just that laser wheel alignment correction could be a viable solution if the issue occurs.
If you hit a curb recently and the car feels as if it's pulled just a little bit in one direction, you might have an issue. Similarly, if the steering wheel isn't dead-centre while you're straight-ahead, that's also a problem.
Both are indications that maybe the front wheels aren't lining up right. You'll probably want to have a laser alignment specialist take a crack at it.
A laser alignment sounds fancy and technical. In some ways, it is. What it does is it uses a beam of light (the laser) to check if the wheels are where they should be. It's basically a fancy way of providing a straight line to act as a guide.
Amusingly, the wheels don't necessarily need to paint straight ahead. Wheels are positioned to point at specific angles to ensure proper running.
So, how does a laser alignment go? Well, here's a quick overview.
First, the technician attaches brackets to the wheels. The laser is then shone from one end to the other. If all four need to be checked, an overhead projector comes into play. Depending on where the beams fall, the technician can tell what needs realigning and how much.
For improved accuracy, we use a computer to calculate positions. This allows us to get perfect precision in the realignment and adjusting the suspension.
How do you identify the signs of needing the alignment checked? Well, let's poke the most common symptoms.
Is the car pulling to the left or right, even when your steering is straight? Is the wear on the tires uneven, despite the fact that it shouldn't be? Does the steering wheel vibrate even when not in use? If so, you need to drive that truck in.