At RDI Power in Brooksville, FL, we often get asked about alignment issues. Here’s what owner Ryan Bethell had to say about some of the problems his customers face and how the shop can help.

The right equipment matters

When it comes to fleet service and diesel repair, the team at RDI Power are experts, and they combine that with state of the art technology, with Bethell touting the shop’s use of MD Alignment Services.

MD Alignment Services specializes in providing comprehensive alignment solutions for commercial vehicles, particularly trucks and trailers. Their services are centered around ensuring that vehicles are precisely aligned, which is essential for maximizing tire life, improving fuel efficiency, and ensuring safe and comfortable driving conditions. MD Alignment employs advanced techniques and equipment to diagnose and correct alignment issues, focusing on factors such as axle alignment, wheel balancing, and overall suspension system integrity. Their commitment to precise alignment helps fleet operators and individual truck owners reduce wear and tear, lower operational costs, and enhance the overall performance and longevity of their vehicles.

“So with our MD Alignment Services, when a customer comes in with a vibration or a pull to the left or the right, we’re able to use the laser system to pinpoint exactly where our problem is,” Bethell said. 

Check Your Toe(s)

The term “toe” in vehicle alignment refers to the angle at which the wheels of a car are set relative to the vehicle’s centerline. Specifically, it describes whether the fronts of the tires are closer together or farther apart than the rears of the tires. This is an important aspect of wheel alignment that affects how the tires wear and how the vehicle handles.

There are two types of toe alignment:

  1. Toe-in: This is when the front of the tires are closer to each other than the rear of the tires. Imagine standing with the tips of your shoes pointing towards each other; this is similar to toe-in alignment. Toe-in helps with straight-line stability and is common in front-wheel-drive vehicles.

  2. Toe-out: Conversely, this is when the front of the tires are farther apart than the rear. This is like standing with your heels closer together and toes pointing outwards. Toe-out can improve the responsiveness of the vehicle, making it more agile, especially during sharp turns.

Improper toe alignment can cause uneven tire wear and can affect the handling of the vehicle, leading to issues like the car pulling to one side. Regular checks and adjustments of toe alignment are part of routine vehicle maintenance to ensure optimal tire life and vehicle performance.

Bethell said owners can perform their own test to see if there’s a toe issue with their vehicle.

“You just take your hand across the front tires, and if you push in … rough in is toe in,” he said. “Rough out is toe out, essentially.”

Rear axle thrust issues

Bethell said another issue his shop encounters comes from thrust issues with the rear axles on three-axle trucks.

In three-axle trucks, common thrust issues typically revolve around the alignment of the axles and wheels. These issues can significantly affect the truck’s handling, tire wear, and overall safety. Some of the common thrust issues in three-axle trucks include:

  1. Misaligned Thrust Angle: If the rear axle is not properly aligned with the truck’s centerline, it creates a thrust angle issue. This misalignment can cause the truck to pull to one side, leading to handling difficulties and uneven tire wear.
  2. Uneven Tire Wear: When the thrust angle is off, it can lead to uneven tire wear on one side of the vehicle. This not only shortens the lifespan of the tires but can also lead to safety issues due to decreased traction and increased risk of tire failure.>
  3. Dog Tracking: This occurs when the rear axles are not aligned with the front axle, causing the truck to move slightly sideways down the road, a condition often referred to as “dog tracking.” This can be visually observed as the truck appears to be moving down the road at a slight angle instead of straight.
  4. Increased Fuel Consumption: Improper alignment, including thrust angle issues, can increase rolling resistance, which in turn leads to increased fuel consumption.
  5. Handling and Stability Issues: Misalignment can impact the truck’s handling and stability, especially at higher speeds or during maneuvers, making it more challenging to control.
  6. Increased Maintenance Costs: Over time, thrust alignment issues can lead to increased wear and tear on various components of the vehicle, including tires, suspension, and steering systems, resulting in higher maintenance costs.
  7. Safety Concerns: Ultimately, any misalignment in a three-axle truck can pose safety risks, not just to the truck driver but also to other road users, especially in adverse driving conditions or during emergency maneuvers.

Bethel said there’s a key component that RDI Power focuses on when it comes to rear axle thrust issues.

“Most people think that the rear axles are supposed to be straight, but they’re actually supposed to be staggered on these three-axle trucks, so it actually helps them move away from the crown (of the tire) naturally,” Bethell said.

Why is RDI Power’s Expertise Essential for Alignment Issues?

It’s not complicated – Bethell started RDI Power to give diesel and fleet owners excellent service based on integrity and honesty, and it’s no different with their alignment services.

Technicians make sure every aspect of the service is done correctly before a vehicle is returned.

“We ensure that when we do an alignment that everything is positioned properly, but we don’t just do the alignment and give it to the customer,” Bethell said. “We do the alignment. We take it for a test drive to make sure it’s optimum. We try to ensure that our services exceed the customer’s expectations at all times.”

How is RDI Power Providing Safety by Performing Alignment Services?

The team at RDI Power takes a comprehensive approach, including technicians who are trained to ensure that every vehicle is safe before the customer gets it back. On top of that, every vehicle gets a free inspection.

When it comes to alignments, Bethell said: ”It’s not just about making sure a vehicle’s tires are wearing properly and making sure that the vehicle’s going down the road straight. It’s also to ensure that all the components are wearing properly, making sure there’s not too much wear in them because you never want a tie rod end to come off a spindle to where the tire just flops out and the truck will hang to the left or to the right.”

The Impact of RDI Power’s Alignment Services

RDI Power’s philosophy is to do it right the first time and keep every client coming back, starting with customer service that is unmatched.

Here’s one example:

Bethell recounted a customer who brought in a refrigerated semi trailer with inside wear on the rear axle. The team learned that the specific trailer had axle issues with flex – the bending or flexing movement of the trailer’s axles during operation.

The customer had to replace many tires after saying his truck was aligned.

“But we knew when it came in, when we saw the trailer and the axles, that there was a problem with that particular axle itself,” Bethell said. “So the fix to that was actually taking steel – some angle iron – and welding it across the top to keep it from flexing, and ever since then, the customer’s been extremely happy, hasn’t had any problems, and saved them a ton of money on tires.” 

Experience the Alignment Difference at RDI Power

Whatever your needs may be, from tune-ups and maintenance to complete transmission rebuilds, RDI Power is your trusted diesel repair specialist. We’re located at 1665 Donto Way, Brooksville, FL 34601 or call us at (352) 433-3800. You can also visit our website at https://www.rdipower.com to schedule an appointment for your wheel alignment today!