Fleets and owner-operators of heavy duty (Class 7 and 8) trucks have enjoyed the advantages of aluminum wheels for years. Compared to steel wheels, aluminum wheels are lighter, require less maintenance and allow higher payload. Those same advantages are also available for medium duty (Class 3-6) applications.
Brian Thomas, marketing communications manager at Alcoa Wheels, passes along five selling points aimed at owners of medium-duty hard working trucks who are considering an investment in aluminum wheels.
#1 – Corrosion resistance to lower maintenance costs
Aluminum wheels do not require the continuous refurbishing for which steel wheels do such as removing rust. In addition, aluminum wheels are not painted like steel wheels, eliminating the need for spray paint and touch up. In harsh environments, fleets are required to dismount tires, paint or touch up and remount tires every year in order to avoid that common rusty appearance found on so many steel wheels. Aluminum wheels reduce overall lifetime costs and can improve the appearance of the tractor or trailer over a rusty or paint chipped steel wheel.
To see how savings can add up, Alcoa offers a ‘calculighter‘ to help do the math.
By their very nature, wheels spend their entire lives in a hostile environment. Alcoa’s Dura-Bright wheels clean easily with mild soap and water for continued wheel shine. And since Dura-Bright wheels don’t need to be polished, they work hard to lower maintenance costs since they shine up quickly with a simple scrub and keep the vehicle looking newer for longer.
#2 – Lighter in weight to improve freight efficiency or fuel economy
For drivers and owners of medium duty equipment that “weigh out” rather than “cube out”, lower weight wheels can increase productivity by adding more freight to each vehicle. Switching from steel wheels to light weight aluminum wheels can take hundreds of pounds off the truck equipment; thus adding hundreds of pounds of freight to each load. And if the trucks are already filled with freight, lighter weight wheels rotate easier and require less effort from the drivetrain to improve fuel efficiency.
#3 – Naturally bright to improve the image of your fleet
Many fleets use their truck equipment as rolling billboards. It’s your “calling card”. And shiny aluminum wheels improve your image from a simple swap. Aluminum wheels stay cleaner for longer and enhance the image of you and your company.
#4 – Stronger than steel to reduce curbing damage
Most medium duty trucks live their life in a harsh, demanding environment. Potholes and curbs are everywhere in the urban jungle. Since a forged aluminum wheel is five times stronger than a steel wheel in crush tests, aluminum wheels will last longer with less down time when the going gets tough.
#5 – Truer than steel for an improved ride
While steel wheels are still the “default” choice for many medium duty applications, keen users are realizing that one-piece forged aluminum wheels are also truer and rotate better for an improved ride. A single piece forged aluminum wheel runs smoother than multi-piece welded steel wheels; all adding up to less driver fatigue and improved security for fragile loads while lowering maintenance costs through improved performance and increased product life.
When considering wheel choices, value should always be the goal. Aluminum wheels present lifetime advantages over steel wheels and, although steel wheels are less expensive at the time of purchase, they become more high maintenance over time, Thomas says. Decisions come down to short-term versus long-term planning and navigating the available choices to ensure value over the life of the truck equipment.