When your caravan is aligned properly, it should drive more comfortably without pulling in either direction. However, after many hours of driving in unpredictable road conditions, the wheels of your caravan may become misaligned. While some roads are predictable, potholes are unavoidable, especially when touring new locations. There are several things you can do to prevent your caravan from falling out of alignment, including but not limited to fixing your caravan’s suspension.
What is Wheel Alignment?
Alignment represents the geometry of the suspension system. The suspension system is composed of different parts that work together to support the caravan and turn the wheels. Each caravan’s suspension system contains a mounting point, steering components and control arms that are intended to fit in a particular area. Wheels must be correctly aligned for all tyres to work together in the same direction and speed. Even tiny variations in the suspension’s geometry can affect wheel alignment. Driving a caravan with poorly aligned wheels can lead to premature wear of tyres and/or damage to the suspension.
When performing wheel alignments, mechanics check the 3 different angles (camber, caster, and toe) of the caravan’s alignment to ensure wheels are properly aligned. The caravan is linked to a piece of equipment that is able to measure the position of each wheel and indicate the current level of alignment of the caravan, as well as what adjustments need to be made so that the caravan adheres to the specifications of suspension provided by the manufacturer.
This is the vertical angle or slope of the wheels. If wheels are sloping at the wrong angle, the camber may be off.
Toe focuses on the direction the wheels are rolling. All wheels must rotate in the same direction at the same time.
This is the balancing angle related to the caravan’s weight and steering. Incorrect caster makes handling the car more difficult, and this may cause wandering or drifting. The more caster you have, the more stable your driving experience is. However, too much caster makes it harder to steer.
Does Suspension Affect Caravan Wheel Alignment
Misalignment occurs for a variety of reasons such as driver errors, environmental conditions, and wear and tear of suspension components. Because of their fragile nature, the metal parts of caravan suspension systems are susceptible to damage from the impact of hitting potholes and other road hazards. Even at low speeds, such impacts can damage your suspension, pushing your wheels out of alignment.
Furthermore, some parts of the suspension system like bushings and joints may weaken over time, making them less effective in keeping the wheels aligned. Lastly, suspension modifications like the use of lowering and lift kits can affect the alignment of your caravan. Manufacturers set suspension specifications based on the caravan’s height. If modified, the suspension must be adjusted to compensate for the change in height.
Signs of Bad Alignment and How to Prevent It
Wheel alignments should be done when new tyres are installed on your caravan to prevent premature wear of the tyres. Some of the signs that can tell you that it’s time for wheel alignment include:
- Uneven tire treads
- Shaking steering wheel
- Car tracks depressions in the road
- Fighting the steering wheel
- Car pulling to the left or right
Avoiding potholes is not always easy. But going around them or slowing down as you pass them can help you keep your suspension and wheels aligned. Also, watching for curbs as you park or turn is equally equipment to keep your alignment in check. Finally, keeping your tyres in good condition helps prevent your caravan from misalignment.