13 ways to promote longer vehicle wheel life


Wheels could be made a “non-issue,” maintains Denny Weisend, director of North American commercial wheel sales for Maxion Wheels, if fleet equipment specifiers and maintainers follow a few simple guidelines.

Maxion Wheels is the world’s largest manufacturer of lightweight steel wheels (www.maxionwheels.com). 

The most common selection by commercial vehicle fleets is hub-piloted wheels, which provide better torque and torque retention, less maintenance time, and in most cases, longer life, he notes.

“Today, the 10-hole hub piloted wheel system is the industry standard for every wheel manufacturer,” he says. “These wheels offer straight-through stud-bolt holds – no ball seat or spherical countersink – and are positioned on the hub by wheel pilot pads,  providing more true mounting to the axle end, which provides a better end-user experience.”



Weisend says key factors to consider in spec’ing wheels should include:

- Tire size and maximum air inflation.

- Loads to be carried – wheel-carrying capacity.

- Duty cycle – linehaul, off-road, delivery stop and start.

- Axle pound rating.

- Warranty.

- Field service support from the wheel supplier.



To achieve longer wheel life, says Weisend, a fleet should care and maintain its wheels in the following ways: 

- Keep wheels washed and clean, removing any/all caustic road chemicals, often used in winter-ice conditions.

- Maintain a flat, properly painted wheel surface because road salt can find the most miniscule opening to cause problems.

- Attaching hardware must be free of debris to allow torque wrenches to torque to correct specifications. To ensure proper clamp load, fasteners or lock nuts must be clean, free turning and torqued to the recommended torque level.

- Use a calibrated torque wrench when torqueing wheel nuts and follow torque wrench manufacturer’s recommendations for keeping the wrenches calibrated.

- Properly maintain air wrenches and be sure to use the proper length of the air hose. Drain the air guns because they can collect moisture; watch for worn sockets; and use air dryers to keep moisture out of the air supply chain.

- Maintain clean mating surfaces by removing all dirt, debris, burrs – anything that may impact the flatness of the mating surfaces.

- Exercise caution to assure no lubricants exist on the mating surfaces or any vertical plane of the wheel. Lubricating the wheel pilot pads should be limited to the horizontal plane of the wheel pilot pads.



To keep wheels clean and provide long-life and performance, most fleets have wheels refurbished.

Wheel refurbishers should be properly trained to determine if a wheel should be placed back into service, advises Weisend. He recommends that fleets closely review the vendor’s refurbishing procedures, emphasizing proper inspection, cleaning and re-painting of the wheels.

Two important details in refurbishment: controlling paint mil thickness in the mounting area of the disc face and ensuring paint is fully cured.

“Corrosion remains a concern for fleets operating in harsh service environments, particularly on roads treated for snow or ice,” he says. “One option to combat this severe service situation is to specify wheels with premium paint finishes, such as a powder-coated wheel.”

Properly-spec’d and maintained wheels will provide many years of satisfactory performance, concludes Weisend. “Just pay attention to the basics. Care and maintenance will enable the wheels to last the life of the vehicle.”