What is a Wheel Alignment?
There are a few routine services that are very important in order to keep your Sprinter or Transit van running smoothly and efficiently. Proper wheel alignment is one of them. Before describing what a wheel alignment is, it’s important to know a little bit about your vehicle’s anatomy. Your wheels and tires are connected to the rest of the vehicle via the suspension system. Therefore, the suspension system allows all four tires to move in the same direction and rotate at the same time.
A wheel alignment is a series of technical and precise adjustments of suspension system components. Adjusting these will reset the angles of your tires and your suspension system back to the manufacturer’s recommended settings. Likewise, an alignment machine is used to measure the position of each wheel and the adjustments needed to get the wheels aligned back to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended measurements.
Why is Alignment Important for Sprinter and Transit Vans?
Wheel alignment influences the way your van responds to steering, handling, tire wear, and fuel efficiency. For instance, driving with properly aligned tires reduces wear on the steering column and the suspension. Bad alignment, on the other hand, can cause shaking and compromised handling. Secondly, when all tires have equal and even contact with the road, they wear more evenly and last longer. This, in turn, means you won’t have to replace your tires as frequently. Less frequent tire replacements save you money over time. In addition, having your tires and wheels properly aligned will save you money on gas. Simply put, when your wheels are out of alignment, they’re not working together optimally. When this happens, your engine has to work harder. Simply put, when your engine has to work harder, it needs to use more fuel to work. This can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 10%!
Common Signs that Your Van Needs to be Realigned
There are lots of factors that can cause your alignment to change. For example, any time you hit a pothole, a curb, go off-roading, or even just travel down a bumpy road, your tires and your suspension are taking the brunt of the impact. This repeated impact will cause your alignment to shift, which can alter your van’s handling, steering, tire wear and fuel efficiency. Because of this, Sprinter and Transit vans that are frequently used off-roading should be realigned frequently to avoid these issues related to misalignment. If you experience any of the following, it is likely a sign that your van needs to be aligned.
Uneven Tire Wear
Now that we’ve talked about what an alignment entails, this should make a lot of sense. If the treads on any of your tires are uneven, this is a clear sign that your alignment is off.
If you are driving and your rig is pulling to the left or the right without you turning the wheel, your alignment likely needs to be realigned.
Steering Wheel Vibration
Similarly, if your steering wheel shakes when you are driving, this is also a sign that you need your wheels realigned.
How Often Do I Need This Done?
In general, both the Sprinter and Transit van are recommended to have a wheel alignment every 6 months or 5,000-10,000 miles. However, if you are driving off-road frequently, or hit a curb or lots of potholes, or have been in a minor accident, this can cause your alignment to need to be adjusted sooner.
It’s important to get your van aligned at a reputable shop or dealership. If you want to take your van to a trustworthy, professional shop and avoid paying dealership prices, schedule a service at TOURIG Recreation Group in Golden, Colorado. A proper tire alignment is a very technical job that is best done by an alignment technician with the proper equipment. At TRG, we use the newest alignment technology and trained technicians to measure the angles of the toe, camber and caster and adjust them as needed. Furthermore, TRG’s alignment service comes with a complimentary tire pressure and tire condition check. If you cannot bring your van to TRG, we suggest asking an auto body shop what equipment they use and how long the alignment will take. Some shops use “quick” alignment check machines, which is not as thorough or involved a service, and something to be aware of.