If your business requires the regular use of trucks, fuel is one of your major expenses. Anything you can do to save fuel can make a big difference when it comes to your bottom line. One way of saving on fuel is considering ways to reduce truck vibration. Tractor-trailer vibration causes your truck to expend more energy and waste fuel. What exactly is vibration and what causes it, and what are some ways to reduce vibration in trucks in order to save fuel?
What Is Truck Vibration?
If you’ve ever been in a truck with the steering wheel shaking, you’ve experienced vibration. Vibration is simply a repetitive force imbalance you experience when your truck is in motion. Since truck tires are round, they create imbalances of opposing forces every time they go around. If the tire is out of balance, you will experience more of these opposing forces, or a higher-frequency vibration. Anything, no matter how big or small, responds to an influx of energy by storing it through vibrating.
Of course, you don’t need to be riding in a truck to experience vibration. You experience vibration every day: when riding in cars, trucks, buses, or trains, when sitting in the proximity of loud music, or when walking by a construction site. However, vibration in trucks can cause some serious issues for your business operation.
What Is the Big Deal About Vibration?
A little vibration while driving a truck is natural. However, excessive truck vibration can cause any number of problems. For one, it can irritate and inconvenience your drivers, making it hard for them to concentrate on driving their route and performing their duties. Even worse, it can lead to repetitive stress injuries that could take them off the job.
Excessive vibration is hard on your truck as well. It can cause parts to wear out faster, damage your tires, and hurt your truck’s fuel economy. Finding ways to deal with vibration can be a great benefit to you, saving you money on fuel costs, prolonging the life of your trucks, and giving you happier drivers.
What Are Some Ways to Reduce Vibration in Trucks?
How you will reduce vibration depends in part on where your drivers are experiencing it the most. For example, if speeding up or slowing down reduces the vibration, it is often a tire balance problem. If the vibration is high when you accelerate or take an upward grade, check the transmission, torque converter, or driveline. If it gets worse as you speed up, it could be a bad tire or driveline. If it gets worse if you slow down by pumping the brakes, it’s probably a brake problem. If you get heavy vibration on turns, loose front-end parts are often the culprit. If you’ve just rotated the tires, check the lug nuts. If it happens when revving the engine, you guessed it: You’ve got an engine problem.
If you have truck engine vibration, you may have a bigger problem with your transmission. However, in most cases of vibration, adjusting the driveline or run out in one or more tires should reduce your issues. If that doesn’t work, tightening the lug nuts or front-end parts or fixing the brakes may be the answer.
First, you will want to locate the source of the excessive vibration. If you feel it in the steering wheel, your vibration issue is in the front. If you feel it in the seat, it is in the rear. Side-to-side, or lateral movement, is a vibration problem in the front, while hopping, or radial movement, indicates a rear vibration problem.
Once you’ve established where your truck vibration problem is, check the tires. Examine the bead ring around the tire, making sure it is equal all the way around. Make sure the wheel is mounted properly on the hub by running a business card around the area where the wheel mounts. There should be equal space all around. Make sure the run-out is less than 1/8 of an inch. If not, you may need to re-lug the wheel or correct the tire bead seat on the wheel. If it is less than 1/8 of an inch, deflate the tire, rotate 180 degrees, and re-inflate to correct PSI with the valve stem at 12 o’ clock.
Once you’ve gone through this procedure, test-drive the truck. If you are still getting the vibration problem, lug two wheel assemblies from a truck that is working properly and attach them to the truck with the problem. If you’re still getting the vibration, it’s not a tire or wheel problem.
If you’re still having truck vibration problems, there are actually a number of other solutions you can try. Here’s a simple checklist for resolving vibration issues:
- Driveline – U joints, yokes, carrier bearings, drive shaft angles/suspension height, balance weights
- Hubs – Mounting surfaces, bearing adjustment/end play
- Brake Drums – Balanced? Excessive wear? Centered mounting?
- Suspension and Steering Components – Defective?
- Lug Nuts – Torqued properly?
- Fluids – Leaks
- Shock or Shock Mounting – Defective?
- Truck – Lean?
- Steering Gear – Loose?
- Ply – Separation or blister in tire?
- Drive Train – Alignment
According to TMC RP 214D, internal tire balancing materials are effective solutions to reduce vibrations in the wheel-end. EQUAL FLEXX ™ from IMI has double the vibration absorption power as the softest internal balancing compound available.
This means that FLEXX will maximize vibration dampening over the life of the tire while never damaging the tire casing, TPMS units, or voiding manufacturer warranties, leading to better tire wear resistance and smoother rides. Using FLEXX helps you cut down on wasted energy that leads to uneven tire wear, increased fuel consumption, and agitated drivers.
While saving fuel is a critical reason to reduce vibration, you can see there are many other important reasons to reduce vibration. Any expense you undertake in order to reduce vibrations, if it is effective, is invariably worth the cost.
To learn more about FLEXX other IMI tire-saving products, or learn more about vibration and vibration dampening for trucks, contact IMI today.