Commercial vehicles may have upgraded in design and sophistication, but there are still some common problems that continue to cause an impact on the cost of fleet maintenance, safety, and company reputation. One of these problems includes detached or loose wheels. With years of extensive research dedicated to improving the knowledge and understanding of wheel failure, the limited view and simplistic approach of many people on this matter add to the challenge.
Problems related to wheel failure
It is essential to understand specific events that lead to wheel failure. Knowing how wheel detachment happens is the first step to identifying the right system or product such as a wheel nut retainer, used to prevent these problems.
- Human error. Errors such as failing to apply the proper torque or forgetting to address inconsistencies with the clamping assembly.
- Settling from hub to rim. It is a common problem which stems from rust, corrosion, dirt or paint on the hub or rim surface. These contaminants reduce the amount of clamping force on the fixtures, which will eventually lead to loose wheels.
- Stud fatigue and stretch. When too much torque is applied to the nut, it will stretch the stud beyond the elastic limit. This is often what happens when oil threads or rattle guns are set incorrectly.
Identifying these problems pre-emptively is the best way to ensure proper maintenance. Often a visual assessment of how the nut moves before a scheduled repair or maintenance check is sufficient to prevent costly repairs and unwanted downtime.
How to prevent wheel nuts from loosening
There are products specifically developed to indicate, retain, or a combination of both, for wheel bolts and wheel nuts. Ideally, loose wheel nuts are not supposed to occur if the proper torque level is applied to the wheel nuts. Unfortunately, real-life scenarios often deviate from the ideal recommendation of the automobile manufacturer.
There are different forces applied to the wheel and the hub, which can cause it to loosen. For example, insufficient clamping force will not retain the wheel in its optimum position throughout all kinds of circumstances. Increasing torque, on the other hand, will lead to overstretching the bolt or stud and damaging these parts.
Based on the experience of large vehicle operators such as bus fleets, even applying the right amount of torque is not sufficient to prevent loosening. Other factors, such as enlarged stud openings and broken studs, also lead to other problems.
Even with adequate maintenance, these issues cannot be eliminated. As such, it is often necessary to use safety products that can provide a timely indication that there is a problem with the wheel and nut. Any company that is serious in complying with vehicle safety regulations needs to consider using these safety measures.
Apart from indicating that the wheel and nut are loosening, a safety product such as a wheel nut retainer also prevents damage and accidents by retaining the wheel nuts and bolts until the next scheduled maintenance check. This two-in-one product is the ideal solution that every company needs to address safety concerns related to loose wheel nuts on vehicles.