Tips to promote longer wheel life

Proper spec’ing and caring for your vehicles’ wheels can be relatively simple and straightforward by following a manufacturer’s recommendations.  And both of those steps require a reasonable amount of time to achieve the longest life and performance from your wheels. 

Maxion Wheels, the world’s largest manufacturer of lightweight steel wheels, suggest fleet equipment specifiers could make wheels a ‘non-issue’ if they’d follow a few simple guidelines and ask their equipment maintenance departments to follow the six spec’ing tips and seven maintenance steps to long wheel life.

The most common selection by commercial vehicle fleets is hub-piloted wheels, which provide better torque and torque retention, less maintenance time, and in most cases, longer life. 

Today, the 10-hole hub piloted wheel system is the industry standard for every wheel manufacturer.  These wheels offer straight-through stud-bolt holds (no ball seat or spherical countersink) and are positioned on the hub by wheel pilot pads providing more true mounting to the axle end, which provides a better end-user experience.

Distinct Maxion design features with clear customer benefits include MaxCoat corrosion-resistant paint, a triple-protection coating system for corrosion protection and improved style, and low point wheel markings to enable fleets to match-mount the tire assemblies.

 “We work closely with fleets of all sizes and their respective OEMs to provide the right wheel for the job,” says Denny Weisend, director, North American Commercial Wheel Sales, Maxion Wheels. A reliable wheel manufacturer like Maxion helps the customer determine such factors as: standard duty or severe duty wheels, two-hand hole or five-hand hole design, or a unique color to promote a specific fleet image.

Key factors to consider in spec’ing wheels should include:

  • Tire size and maximum air inflation
  • Loads to be carried – wheel-carrying capacity
  • Duty cycle – line haul, off-road, delivery stop and start
  • Axle pound rating
  • Warranty – Maxion Wheels feature five-year coverage and availability nationwide
  • Field service support from your wheel supplier

To achieve longer wheel life, your fleet should care and maintain your wheels in the following ways: 

• Keep the wheels washed and clean, removing any/all caustic road chemicals, often used in winter-ice conditions

 • Maintain a flat, properly painted wheel surface – road salt can find the most miniscule opening to cause problems

• Attaching hardware must be free of debris – allows torque wrenches to torque to correct specifications. To ensure proper clamp load, fasteners or lock nuts must be clean, free turning and torqued to the recommended torque level.

• Use a calibrated torque wrench when torqueing wheel nuts and follow torque wrench manufacturers’ recommendations for keeping the wrenches calibrated.

• Properly maintained air wrenches (including proper length of the air hose). Drain the air guns, which can collect moisture, watch for worn sockets, and use air dryers to keep moisture out of the air supply chain.

• Maintain clean mating surfaces, by removing all dirt, debris, burrs – anything that may impact the flatness of the mating surfaces.

• Exercise caution to assure no lubricants exist on the mating surfaces or any vertical plane of the wheel. Lubricating the wheel pilot pads should be limited to the horizontal plane of the wheel pilot pads.

To keep wheels clean and provide long-life and performance, most fleets have wheels refurbished. These refurbishers should be properly trained to determine if a wheel should be placed back into service. It’s recommended that fleets closely review the vendor’s refurbishing procedures, emphasizing proper inspection, cleaning and re-painting of the wheels. Two important details in refurbishment: controlling paint mil thickness in the mounting area of the disc face and ensuring paint is fully cured.

Corrosion remains a concern for fleets operating in harsh service environments, particularly on roads treated for snow or ice. One option to combat this severe service situation is to specify wheels with premium paint finishes, such as a powder-coated wheel.

Properly-spec’d and maintained wheels will provide many years of satisfactory performance. “Just pay attention to the basics,” Weisend adds. “Care and maintenance will enable the wheels to last the life of the vehicle.”