Tips to inspect and maintain truck wheels

North America’s annual 72-hour Roadcheck inspection blitz returns May 17-19, and this year the event includes a special focus on wheel ends.

The all-important components typically account for one in every four out-of-service violations during the annual enforcement and education initiative, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) says.

Ontario — home to a potential $50,000 fine for lost truck wheels — annually reports about 150 runaway wheels on its own, adds Dave McDonald, commercial sales manager with Bridgestone Commercial Solutions.

truck drive wheels
(Photo: Jim Park)

Signs of troubled wheels are not limited to cracks caused by improper torque and excessive loads. The rust streaking from bolt holes can indicate loose fasteners. And if unwanted lubricants are coating brake surfaces, a damaged seal may be at play.

Here are links to some key details that can help you better inspect, maintain, and spec’ your truck wheels.

  1. Know what inspectors look for – Are you wondering what enforcement teams will focus on as they kneel next to wheel ends? This video explains what the related Level 1 inspections will include.
  2. Keep the wheels tight – Properly installing and adjusting bearings, preparing wheels and hubs before an installation, applying the right torque, and ultimately retorquing will ensure that wheels remain safe and secure. Here are four tips to keep everything in place.
  3. Fight the fires – Wheel fires are ultimately connected to excess heat that ignites a tire or some stray oil or grease at the wheel end. Here’s how you can fight wheel fires before they occur.
  4. Buy a better wheel – Purchasing decisions go beyond choosing between steel or aluminum wheels. Each decision can affect everything from weights to appearance and even aerodynamics. Here is some purchasing guidance.
  5. Keep them clean – Appearance matters as well. Rust streaks, for example, can signal poor maintenance practices – and that will always attract some added attention from enforcement officers. Here are wheel choices that will attract the right attention.