Rear-wheel Alignment System Can Help With Handling Trucks On Country Roads

July 3, 2008 07:13 AM
 


We all want a truck to go 300,000 miles and we think we'll live forever. When I sold trucks, I was surprised at how many folks had accidents in their trucks and unhurt, they came back to me to buy another truck! Trucks are safer than cars, don't let anybody fool you. I'm looking for ways and products to keep trucks and trailers safer. Growing up in the country and driving on gravel roads most of my life, gave me a unique way of evaluating how trucks and the accessories perform on dirt roads as well as the asphalt. SuperTrack will make a big difference in the way your truck handles.

SuperTrack rear-wheel alignment systemAfter I spent a couple of weeks driving GM Quadrasteers and enjoying the stability with a trailer and on snowy icy roads, I dawned on me that part of the equation was the wider rear track of the Quadrasteer. A normal GM HD 2500 4x4 has the same rear axle as a 4x2 for obvious economic reasons. So the 4x4 rear axle is 2 inches narrower than the front. But the Quadrasteer rear axle is over 3 inches wider than the front axle.

This reminded me of reading about Correctrack rear-wheel alignment system. There are several makes of trucks and vans that have this front to rear tracking deficit. Correctrack has changed to SuperTrack with new owner, Henderson's Line-Up, a RV accessory supplier.

Pot holes, gravel ruts and washboards will test the handling characteristics of a truck. Test driving the GM Quadrasteer opened my eyes to what a difference a wider rear axle could do. The majority of HD GM's have a narrow rear axle, even the new re-designed GMT-900 platform starting in 2007. Ford HD trucks were narrower through 97 and Dodge trucks tracked better starting in 1994. The majority of Ford, Dodge and older GM vans have narrower rear axles.

I doubt if this inconsistent axle alignment is by a master engineering design but more of a money saving measure to use the same rear axle on 4x2's and 4x4's. This is something you really have to experience to appreciate the difference.

Alignment part on axleI went out to ranch that a friend owns, (yes I still have a friend or two) and tested out the SuperTrack rear-wheel alignment system in the rugged wild west. The test truck was a 1997 Ford 4x4 F250 crew cab diesel. The rear axle on this Heavy Duty Ford F250 was almost 3 inches narrower than the front axle. That surprised me!

I've driven a few million miles on gravel roads, and I consider them the most dangerous type of surface. Dirt roads constantly change, with rain, snow, ruts, washboards, and gravel ribbons, it all can be different any day.

The soft shoulder is always a danger trying to suck you down the ditch. The better handling your truck is, the more control you have for those ever changing conditions. You can feel the extra pull the ruts and gravel windrows put to your trucks steering and the bounce the washboards cause the rear axle of an empty truck. It was very simple and easy adding the SuperTrack spacers.

Once the spacers and wheels were torqued down, we were ready for the test. I watched the rear wheel tracking in the yard on the way to the road and looked like a match. Going down the same dirt roads, that I took before we added SuperTrack, you could immediately tell the difference! The ruts didn't pull you and the washboard didn't make the back axle jump from side to side.

Turning corners was even different with less rear sliding. The truck was just easier to drive with less movement from the steering wheel, do to road feedback. And with a trailer on the truck you could feel the better control with less over steer to drive straight. I wouldn't of thought that I would see such a dramatic change in the effort it takes to handle the truck with the spacers added.

Setting the alignment adapter on the axleDon't forget the pavement, you still have washboards, semi truck ruts, pot-holes and the cargo that falls out of the back of someone else's truck you're following. Evasive maneuvers can happen at anytime and you want a rear axle wide enough to help you control the fishtailing and leaning on turns. There is a reason sports cars, such as a Chevy Corvette and Dodge Viper and stock cars have wider rear tires. It's all about handling control.

Basically a rear axle that is narrower than the front axle doesn't even sound logical. Would you special order a truck that way on purpose? GM did solve it with the newer full size vans. It's easy to figure out, just go measure your truck and van to see if the rear is narrower.

Measure your truck or van axles to see if it's tracking or constantly making new tracks. Do you suppose following the same track will help fuel mileage? For more info, read more here.


Author H. Kent Sundling writes for AgWeb.com via a special agreement with MrTruck.com.


































 

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