Wheel separations are dangerous and can be scary. Yet, they are also fully preventable. So, why are they still happening? The focus on speed over safety is a common reason for this. There’s simply too much pressure put on mechanics and wheel installers. Getting the job done fast may seem important, but attention to detail and safety is paramount.
By all accounts, when a mechanic speeds up the process of installing tires or handling repairs, they are not doing it better. Rather, they may end up skipping steps and cut corners in areas such as inspections, cleaning, and lubrication of parts. As a fleet owner, it’s critical that you ensure the company you turn to isn’t pressured by speed so much so that they are putting your drivers and rigs at risk.
How to Prevent Wheel Separations
Wheel separations typically include loose, broken, or sometimes missing wheel fasteners. They may include bearing failures or damaged wheels. Wheel component suppliers, as well as industry associations, have created numerous tools to help minimize these types of failures. That’s why it is in your hands as a fleet operator to ensure you are getting the best results when you need wheel services, such as balancing, rotation and aluminum wheel refinishing.
- Focus on wheel bearings: Wheel-end failures related to the bearings commonly occur when the bearings are over- or under-tightened or do not have proper lubrication. Techs need to use properly calibrated torque wrenches to ensure proper tightening.
- Check wheel ends during inspections: Preventative maintenance inspections can provide some insight into improper fittings and installations. Ensure that mechanics check bearing conditions during these inspections. For trailer hubs that have semi-fluid grease applied to them, it’s necessary to remove the hubcap and check for the presence of that lubricant at least once per year.
- Ensure wheel and hub are in good condition: Prior to installing the wheel back on the truck, mechanics need to be confident the contact surfaces are free of grease, dirt, or other debris. Specifically, they must inspect the surfaces between the hub and the inner and outer wheels.
- Focus on fasteners: Age and degradation of fasteners is a big factor in wheel separation. It is common for technicians to try to tighten studs and nuts as much as possible , which can cause damage. Tighter is not always better!
Drivers also need to pay attention to driving conditions and perform visual inspections of tires before they hit the road. It is not common for separations to occur without some type of warning that drivers could pick up on. Pending bearing failure, for example, may be preceded by grinding noises, a burning odor, excessively hot wheel hubs, or oil/grease leaks from bearings.
Let Our Team of Tire Specialists Do It Right for You
Are you looking for help with balancing, rotation or aluminum wheel refinishing? Do you need new tires? Let the team at STTC handle these and other needs for you. You can be confident in our ability to get the job done properly.
Call us now at 610-954-8473 or contact us online for any type of emergency service or tire replacement and repair needs for your commercial fleet vehicles.