The front suspension on your truck contains components that help control the wheel alignment and affect your vehicle handling on the road. Proper wheel alignment can affect tire wear as well, and a wheel alignment service can check and adjust the alignment for you.
The front suspension on your truck comprises several components, including the ball joints that allow the tires to stay in alignment as they move up and down or when you are making a turn. The ball joints can wear over time, allowing the tire to lean in or out vertically (camber of the suspension) and wear along the edge of the tire. The wear will get worse if it is not repaired, and any bumps in the road can cause the front end to shake.
Repairing the ball joints is not difficult, but once they are replaced, you must take the truck to a wheel alignment service and have the alignment reset. The new ball joints should put the tires back in the original position, but often there is some adjustment that needs to be made.
Along with the ball joints, several tie rods are used in the front of your truck to tie the steering box to the front tires. On some newer trucks, the manufacturer may have switched to a rack and pinion steering system, so the tie rods are slightly different because they connect to the rack, and there is no steering box.
In both cases, there are outer tie rods and tie rod ends that connect to the steering knuckle at the tire, and these can wear and loosen over time, causing alignment issues. As they wear, the steering will start to become sloppy, and the truck may wander. Replacing the tie rod ends is vital, and when you do, you need to take your vehicle to a wheel alignment service and have it aligned.
If the tie rods are not adjusted right, they can affect the toe of the truck meaning the front of the tires could be pointing in toward each other or out away from each other. The correct alignment for the tires and suspension is slightly different for each vehicle, but the tech working on your truck will have access to the proper specs so they can set the toe and adjust the camber correctly.
The result is a truck that will handle much better, drive more comfortably, and not wear out tires prematurely. The wheel alignment service is often overlooked but can be one of the most important maintenance items for your truck.