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Align with or without plow?

Discussion in 'Truck & Equipment Repair' started by ETMegabyte, Nov 12, 2012.

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  1. ETMegabyte

    ETMegabyte Member
    Messages: 41

    I am at a crossroad here, and I can see plusses and minuses for each side, so I figured I'd throw out the question...

    This year I finally picked up a second set of rims for my truck so I can put dedicated studded winter snow tires on it for plowing. I still don't drive the truck much other than to plow with it, or if the weather is especially bad. I'd say that 80% or more of it's winter driving is with the plow on it, with another 15% just plain horrible weather without the plow, and only about 5% dry road driving (to the dump and such). So, here's my question...

    My new winter tires come with an alignment. Should I align the truck with the plow on it, or off of it?

    I do know that if I align it with the plow on it, I'll have to have it re-aligned in the spring when I put the all season tires back on it.

    On the other hand, highway driving will be much improved with the plow on it if it's properly aligned in that configuration, and isn't control most important when the weather is bad and the roads are crappy (theoretically when the plow would be on the truck)?

    I'm eager to hear your thoughts...
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
  2. Morrissey snow removal

    Morrissey snow removal PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,799

    i dont think any alignment shop could or would do it with the plow on
     
  3. ETMegabyte

    ETMegabyte Member
    Messages: 41

    I actually specifically asked Town Fair Tire in Concord, NH, and they said that there would be no problem with keeping the plow on the truck when aligning it.
     
  4. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    There is definitely no reason why they wouldn't do it.

    Here's my thought on this; if the road is snowy/icy/slushy, the wheel alignment doesn't matter. Just as long as it isn't insanely far off. It isn't going to make any difference in the control or safety of the vehicle. Even if the road is just WET, the alignment matters less than if the road is dry.

    If the plow is off and the road is dry, an alignment "with plow" will probably chew up your tires pretty badly, and it will have a strong negative effect on handling.

    If the road is dry, why is the plow even on?

    Align it with the plow OFF. It should be rigged for "normal dry road operating" for the alignment. The worse the conditions, the less the alignment matters, and the more likely the plow will be on.
     
  5. AllSeasonsOmaha

    AllSeasonsOmaha Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    A front end alignment consists of setting caster, camber, and toe angles. The extra weight from a snow plow mainly affects caster and camber. There should be little to no affect on the toe in/out angle with the plow on. Toe is the angle that is most important when driving at highway speeds, and should be set according to the manufacturer's specifications. On this vehicle I recommend adjusting the torsion bars to limit the amount of negative camber when the plow is installed. Unless you drive significantly more miles with the plow on than off I would recommend aligning without the plow. If you feel the vehicle is out of alignment (pulls to one side or exhibits uneven tire wear) definitely have an alignment done. It is also a good idea to align when installing new tires.

    Worse road conditions do not mean the alignment matters less, in fact the opposite. Proper alignment angles are necessary to maintain handling and stopping characteristics.

    BTW before starting my company I worked as an auto technician and I am ASE certified in Brakes as well as Steering and Suspensions.
     
  6. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    When you're driving through 6 inches of snow, your tires aren't even touching the road. As long as your alignment is within +/- 10 degrees, you're fine in such conditions. Quit trying to sucker people into spending money on nonsense.
     
  7. Mark13

    Mark13 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,737

    Did you miss the part about his new tires come with an alignment and it sounds like no money out of pocket aside form buying the tires is the agreement?

    Not to mention the truck owner and the above poster are about 1/2 way across the US apart, it's not like he's trying to get the truck owner to come to him for business.
     
  8. Holland

    Holland Senior Member
    Messages: 605

    Being a tech myself, i see the importance of proper alignment. But realigning your truck every spring and fall is not really practical either, (imo). But it is doable.

    You could get your truck aligned without the plow, bring it home and measure the ride height. Then mount the plow and adjust your torsion bars to bring your ride height up to the height it would normally be without the plow. Just get it close and write down the number of turns you adjusted it. In the spring just turn it back down.

    Good luck with whatever you choose tho!
     
  9. D Industries

    D Industries Junior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 15

    What kind of truck? If its a solid front axle it shouldn't matter how much weight is on the front end. But an IFS would make a difference. I could only see this being an issue if you drove long distances with your plow on.
     
  10. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    And it wouldn't be very nice of you to trick him into getting an INCORRECT alignment, and having to pay again to get it fixed.
     
  11. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    According to OP's signature, 2003 GM2500HD. I think that's IFS.
     
  12. Holland

    Holland Senior Member
    Messages: 605

    It would be correct, as long as the plow was on. Just like guys with service bodies, they always carry a load so you align them with all their tools in it. The alignment would only be off when the load is off it. If he never took the plow off he would be better off aligning it with the plow on. Since it comes off and on he just wants to see what would be better. He has options, one of those options is to align it twice a year. It will be up to the op as to what works best for his situation.

    I personally dont align mine with the plow, but that is a personal choice. I dont have the plow on all the time either. (then again we probably dont get as much snow here in il! lol)

    GM has been ifs since 88, his 03 would be the same.
     
  13. DieselSlug

    DieselSlug PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,054

    I got my truck aligned last by Bee-Line in Auburn NY. He told me to put my ballast in the truck before i brought it to him to be aligned. Not sure why or if it changed anything but i did it. I drove the truck all summer with no ballast and i didnt get any adverse tire wear. Guess im not sure on the logic of the whole situtation....
     
  14. Mark13

    Mark13 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,737

    I didn't tell him how to align his truck. If it was me I'd align it with the plow off and just let it be close enough when the plow is on. I was simply agreeing with AllSeason's view on it. Aligning with the plow off and adjusting the torsion bars to make up some of the difference for the winter when there's a plow on would be good enough as opposed to getting seasonal alignments. Somewhere along the line you took AllSeason's post and got all upset that he was disagreeing with your statements about the alignment being less important as conditions get worse.



    Edit. My truck get's aligned "empty" as in how I daily drive it. I figure when my snowplow is on, there is weight in my bed, or I'm pulling my trailer the alignment is still pretty close to being dead on that I'm not going to worry about it. My truck drives the same unloaded as it does with a 900lb plow on the front and 2500lbs in the bed or with a 20k trailer and 4k of pin weight. Under that diverse of conditions tires aren't going to wear perfect anyway and the truck is still going to differ slightly in handling characteristics. But a good alignment is still important, if nothing else for a safety issue weather the road is dry, wet, or somewhere under the snow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012
  15. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    Yes, but my point is only that according to OP's description, this would be stupid *in his case*. Why? Because he only has the extra load on seasonally, and only part of that season, and only very rarely outside of the conditions where it matters at all.
     
  16. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    By contradicting me, you are INSTRUCTING him to do the opposite. Now you seem to be supporting my position? Ok then, discussion over.

     
  17. Holland

    Holland Senior Member
    Messages: 605

    The op stated he has the plow on 80% of the time during the winter. I agree that he probably doesnt need to align it just for the winter months. The point of these forums is to gather information and ideas. The op is open to decide what to do with these suggestions. No one has made a "stupid" suggestion. theres a few options, all are reasonable.

    1. Align it with the plow on and readjust the alignment after winter
    2. Align it w/o the plow and adjust his ride height
    3. Align it w/o the plow and just run it as is

    All are reasonable, and there are guys on here that do it each way. Its not "stupid" for him to align it twice a year, although, it may not be necessary in his case either.

    Theres no need to start an arguement over an alignment, we all have better things to worry about!

    Everyone have a great day!! Thumbs Up
     
  18. D Industries

    D Industries Junior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 15

    ah sorry. was viewing on my phone and didnt see his signature