Maintenance Outlook Report

Insights into what the near future may hold for vehicle maintenance

If that same valve was mounted high inside the trailer subframe, surrounded by suspension parts and brake hoses which would need to be removed or disconnected to repair or service, it would have poor serviceability would.


Among the many areas the Future Truck Committee has been working on are tires, wheels, brakes and trailers.

Tires: The Committee wants tires to be as maintenance-free as possible, and suggests that this could be achieved through development of run-flat truck tires, non-pneumatic tires or even self-contained and disposable tire/wheel assemblies.

Also, foam or other semi-solid materials could be developed so air pressure is not needed, eliminating penetrations and other road hazards to reduce vehicle downtime and tire repairs.

It would also like easier air pressure maintenance which, the Committee says, could be done through the use of flow-through, self-sealing valve caps and clearer accessibility to the inside tire of the dual tire/wheel assembly.

Other Committee suggestions for future truck tires:

  • Have them clearly marked and easier to mount, especially when considering directional tread designs.
  • Easier mounting and dismounting from a wheel.
  • No requirement for additional external lubricant, and the bead should be of a design that ensures perfect, concentric seating every time. These tires should have a standard and more visible rim centering ring to confirm at a glance the perfect concentric seating of the tire to the wheel.
  • Reduced tire weight to facilitate easier handling, better rolling resistance, greater payloads and optimal fuel economy characteristics.
  • Improvements made to valve stems, valve stem grommets/seals, valve cores and caps to make inflation, deflation and inspections more effortless and rapid in all applications and climate conditions.

Wheels: As with tires, the Future Truck Committee wants future wheels as maintenance-free as possible.

It would like the appearance/finish of wheels to last for up to 10 years without refurbishing. Wheels should also clean up as easily as the rest of the vehicle, with no specialized cleaning/polishing required.

Future wheels should have less runout and fewer balance issues, and be lighter in weight to meet customer needs.

Tomorrow’s wheels and fasteners should maintain torque once the wheels have been installed, with no re-torque required. However, some systems must be devised to verify that there is no torque loss.

Brakes: The Future Truck Committee says manufacturers need to continue their design efforts to reduce, minimize or eliminate brake system maintenance in a safe and cost-effective manner.

However, when maintenance is required, to ensure timely and efficient maintenance, the Committee would like to see manufacturers ensure that common mechanical and electrical tools can be used; parts are standardized; brake systems are designed to minimize labor whenever possible, such as wheel, drum and seal removal to reline brakes; and all plumbing and wiring is color coded to an industry standard.

For wearable items that require periodic maintenance, the Committee recommends a system status indicator in the cab, or readily accessible service indicators, and the establishment of accurate, predictable maintenance intervals.

Trailers: Among the major trailer concerns is that “smart trailers” will be incompatible with older, less technologically advanced tractors and trailers. Improved methods of inspecting brakes in an expeditious and repeatable manner (with validated readings) are also needed.

The requirement for improved durability and a five to 10-year, or 500,000 to one-million mile service interval for suspension and running gear components remains unmet by trailer manufacturers, according to the Future Truck Committee.

Other desired developments for trailers include:

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