Tires and wheels represent a major portion of any trucker's maintenance budget and since the early days, some truckers have been costing themselves money and taking safety risks by failing to properly handle their tires and rims. Surveys have shown that most truckers do not have a systematic maintenance program for their wheel assemblies. Heavy metal rims and wheels as well as large truck tires seem to have convinced many truckers these products are practically indestructible.
Despite all the instructions and maintenance literature published by tire and wheel manufacturers, some truckers still seem to feel that once air goes into a tire, it can stay there forever.
They keep banging on wheels and rims with hammers. And when they put a wheel on their vehicle, they torque it down by jumping on the breaker bar with all their weight.
The fact is, today's tires, wheels and rims are precision products that need maintenance just like any other part of the modern vehicle. The days of using a hex-nut wrench plus a long piece of pipe to get extra leverage should be over; but unfortunately they are not, and therein lies the problem.
Improper torquing of wheel nuts can cause a great deal of damage to a wheel or rim. It can cause cracks between the bolt holes in a wheel. It can elongate the holes and break or damage studs.
The advent of tubeless truck tires means that many problems encountered with automobile wheels also apply to truck wheels.
For instance, moisture can get into a tubeless tire through the excessive use of water-based mounting lubricants or through an air line with poor moisture drainage. Once inside, as the running tire warms up, that damp air will cause rust and corrosion on the wheel and even cause rust in the tire's steel belts.
If you have to beat a rim, there is something wrong. Pounding on wheel components can cause cracks or dents that change the stress characteristics of a wheel or rim. It will also bend components so that they will not fit together properly.
Many fleet operators now consider the fitting of wheels to vehicles to be a skilled job. Con-scientious truckers are introducing sophisticated wheel service and maintenance schedules to be performed by their tire service contractors. And for such responsibility, experience, no matter how extensive, is not enough. It now requires retraining.
Recognizing the fact that the majority of truckers fail to properly handle their wheels and rims, Goodyear has developed a wheel maintenance program for their retreading customers. Wheel care services are now available through the company's chain of 90 commercial tire service centers, of which more than half can perform the work on site.
According to Thomas L. Ford, Goodyear's general manager for retreading and commercial truck tire service centers, the wheel inspection and refurbishment program can be coordinated with a fleet's tire retreading program, saving fleet operators both time and money.
When truckers' tires are being retreaded, their wheels could also undergo servicing at the same time. Truck wheels can be shot-blasted and thoroughly inspected for cracks, worn or misshapen bolt holes, dents and other potential problems that may exist beneath layers of grime, old paint and corrosion.
When Goodyear technicians find cracks or distorted bolt holes, the wheels are flagged as being unfit for service, just as a casing is rejected for retreading when unfit to be processed.
The modern tire is an incredibly complex, highly technical product manufactured in more than 3,500 different sizes and types. Over the last several years, tire fitting has become an art and a science.
Modern vehicles require that far more attention be given to correct torque settings, and torque wrenches should be an essential part of any tire servicing facility.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists instruction manuals and charts as part of tire servicing equipment. It mandates that you keep charts and service manuals up-to-date and readily available in your service area.
OSHA also holds you responsible for making sure each worker can do the job safely.