Preventing Wheel-Off Accidents

Five keys to for reducing the chances of these events

4. Torque wrenches are precision instruments that require calibration. This is one place where TIA, the wheel companies and the torque wrench manufacturers are in complete agreement. Using a torque wrench to tighten the fasteners on a wheel is a lot more difficult and labor-intensive when compared to the impact wrench - with or without the torque stick. But, more and more fleets are realizing it's the most economical and effective approach, so they're making the investment in these tools.

However, if the tool itself is not properly maintained or calibrated in accordance with the manufacturer, it's providing a false sense of security simply because an inaccurate torque wrench will probably cause an accident at some point.

5. There are different procedures for installing different types of wheels or rims, but they all include proper torque. There are three major wheel and rim systems used in North America and they each have their own specific installation and inspection procedures.

For example, fastener lubricant is required on hub-pilot systems, but the wrong type of lubricant can actually reduce the amount of clamping force that is created with the proper torque. Once again, the fleet tries to do the right thing by ensuring that a torque wrench is used to tighten the flange nut only to have everything come undone because the technician was out of 30-weight oil.

When all of the proper steps for inspecting and installing rims or wheels are followed and then the proper torque is applied in a star pattern, the chances of a loose wheel are minimal. Change something or miss a step and all bets are off.

TIA recently completed an update of its Fleet Tire Service OSHA Compliance Program that is designed to help trucking and transportation companies comply with federal regulations for employee training. The new material has an increased emphasis on the relationship between torque and clamping force so technicians have a better understanding of how they can take steps to ensure that wheels or rims do not become loose.

TIA is confident that the procedures outlined in the program will have a positive effect if they are followed on a daily basis.

For more information on how this training can become the foundation for an effective wheel torque program, contact TIA at 800-876-8372, ext. 106, or e-mail

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is an international association representing all segments of the tire industry, including those that manufacture, repair, recycle, sell, service or use new or retreaded tires, and also those suppliers or individuals who furnish equipment, material or services to the industry. TIA was formed by the July 2002 merger of the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA) and the Tire Association of North America (TANA). The TIA's main office is in Bowie, Maryland. The association has more than 6,000 current members.

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