December 27, 2016
Source: CCJ – Commercial Carrier Journal

Aluminum and steel wheels are practically bullet proof and a daily glimpse for cracks and rust is probably sufficient as long as you take the steps necessary to maintain them.

“If you have good maintenance practices the wheel should last the life of the vehicle, if not longer,” says Brandon Uzarek, product design engineer at Accuride.

If you’re running steel or aluminum wheels, Uzarek says it’s critical to be sure all mounts and surfaces are clean and flat.

Dave Walters, Alcoa field service manager, agrees, adding the most important part of wheel maintenance is making sure the studs, drum and mounting faces are all clean before installation ever takes place.

“Sometimes, excess or foreign material can work its way into the joints and you’ll lose clamping force,” Uzarek says.

Uzarek recommends cleaning the studs when the wheels are mounted and on hub pilot wheels, studs need to be oiled while also oiling the gap between the flange.

To account for any shifting that takes places when the truck finally hits the road, Uzarek advises wheels be re-torqued between five and 100 miles after the initial mount and again every 10,000 miles.

“A lot of fleets do not do re-torques because it’s an inconvenience,” he says.

Walters says fleets can mitigate much of that inconvenience and still reap the benefits of proper torque by taking a 5 to 10 mile test drive after the wheel is initially mounted to settle the joint, then checking the torque.

“If you cleaned them and did everything properly, you shouldn’t have to re-torque them again unless the wheel is removed,” he says, adding this method was included in the Technology Maintenance Council (TMC) Recommended Practice (RP) 237.

Re-torquing practices can vary and Chris Putz, […]