Misalignment will cause an off-center steering wheel, a pull to one side when you let go of the steering wheel, and / or tire wear patterns. The first two you can notice right away and at any time. Tire wear takes longer to show up. Alignment problems do not cause hard steering, vibrations, or noises.
Hard steering is normally caused by a power steering system problem, most commonly a slipping drive belt or weak pump, but after something like driving through a ditch, if something got hit, there could be something wrong with a steering system component. A new noise associated with steering that you hadn't noticed before is another clue to have the steering system inspected. Impacted dirt or mud could be preventing free movement of the linkage. A connecting sleeve between an inner and outer tie rod end could be bent causing it to rub on the cross member. That would also cause that off-center steering wheel I mentioned. An alignment would be needed after that part is replaced.
Your frame is not as strong as you might think, but it takes a good hit to bend it. Most minor two-vehicle crashes aren't bad enough to do that. Uni-body cars are actually much stronger than your truck, ... That is until they get rusty.
Your frame is plenty strong enough to withstand bouncing through a ditch, even if it bottomed out on some large rocks. I helped a friend a few years ago rebuild a 2006 Dodge dually diesel in his body shop. The truck was hit in the front so hard it pushed the engine back over a foot into the firewall. The frame damage, however, was so minor, it took us less than an hour to pull it straight. That was after a really high-speed direct hit. I'm sure yours didn't get hit that hard.
Saturday, November 8th, 2014 AT 10:29 PM