Truck driving is a dangerous job. It’s rarely the fault of the driver. Distracted 4 wheelers moving in and out of lanes; highways and bridges in terrible conditions; cargo thieves in waiting; but the worst situation to be in is when a dangerous incident is actually caused by driver negligence.
Losing a wheel while driving, due to negligence is a serious safety hazard to truckers and commuters alike. Yet it’s easily avoided.
There’s no shortage of information on wheel integrity: posters, pamphlets, simple one-page instruction sheets and a bunch of YouTube videos, not to mention mandatory day-long wheel-installation courses. Drivers are inundated with education on how to make sure wheels stay attached to the truck.
Yet sometimes the readily-available information is ignored anyway.
There are few credible statistics on wheel-off incidents, but those that do exist suggest the trucking industry is getting better at prevention. Still, news reports of death by flying wheel aren’t entirely rare. What to do?
In December, we looked at bearings, a key source of wheel failures. For this article, we’ll focus on another major factor: fasteners.
Keep ‘em clean
There are many ways for a truck or trailer wheel to fail and come adrift. Yet even with a hub-piloted disc, the wheel least sensitive to poor maintenance, the problem can often be traced to simple cleanliness.
The obvious cause of failure may be a loose fastener, usually due to a torquing problem during installation. What kept it from having enough torque to hold things together in the first place, though?