"The lubricant is important from a couple of aspects," Wenstrup says. "One is the additive package. If it's a very aggressive additive package, it can attack the wheel seal itself and cause the seal to age prematurely and take away from the life of the seal."
Adds SKF's Kern, "Lubrication awareness is another important part of our TFO program. It's important that the lubrication is an OEM recommendation and that it meets the requirements of the application; also to inspect the lubrication for contamination—water, dirt or even metal particles from a worn component," she says.
Other maintenance errors, such as improper tightening, lead to their own dangerous outcomes: "If you have an extremely over-tight wheel end which could escalate temperature quickly, the driver may not have the opportunity to check for wetness—there could be a wheel fire if it goes undetected and, ultimately, lead to a catastrophic failure of that wheel end," Kern says.
Because it is such a critical item in overall vehicle operations, correct maintenance is key and can be as simple as just knowing your wheel ends.
"We think that steering, brakes and wheel ends are among the most critical elements on the vehicle because they are directly related to vehicle control, and if you lose one of those, it's certainly critical," Maye says.
"The first thing we emphasise is identifying which wheel end they're working on. Once they do that, following the manufacturer's recommendations for inspection and service goes a long way to preventing pre-mature failures," he says. "It's different—technicians see some things for the first time that they haven't seen previously, and sometimes they are aware of what they are looking at, and somtimes they're not."
TMC's 2006 SuperTech competition will be held Sept. 18-21 in Austin TX. For more information, visit http://tmc.truckline.com