Practical Tips for Extending the Life of Your Work Truck Wheels
There is nothing more important to the productivity and safety of your work fleet than the wheels on your work vehicles. They are literally “where the rubber meets the road,” and since replacing them can be an expensive endeavor, anything you can do to extend the life of your wheels keeps hard-earned money in your pocket.
The good news is, when you have good maintenance practices, your wheels should last the life of your work truck, if not longer.
Tips to Keep Your Work Wheels Spinning
Follow these tips, as well as any recommendations from your wheel manufacturer, to optimize the life and efficiency of your work truck’s wheels.
- Always perform a daily inspection of your vehicle’s wheels, especially before you head off to complete a job. Look for cracks, rust, or any other evidence of wheel damage. Early detection of such damage makes it possible to take quick action to correct any issues. This can save your wheels from further, often irreparable damage.
- During your daily inspection, check to make sure the studs, drum, and mounting surfaces are clean and flat. If any dirt or debris works its way into the wheel joints, you could lose clamping force.
- When your aluminum alloy wheels get dirty, clean them with a regular soap and water bath. This is especially important after driving on roads that have been treated with salt or other corrosives during winter months. These corrosive agents can quickly eat through your wheel’s finish and cause dangerous structural damage.
- For steel wheels, clean regularly using a wire brush.
- Promptly treat any spots that show signs of rust or corrosion.
- Regularly oil your truck’s wheel studs, making sure to also oil the gap between the flange.
- Re-torque your work truck wheels after the first 100 miles on the road and again after every 1000 miles. This will help correct any shifting that happens as the wheels are driven over hard surfaces.
A Word About Refinishing your Work Wheels
It may be tempting to refresh worn looking wheels with a fresh coat of paint, but that may not be the best option. Wheel manufacturers have developed surface treatments with advanced anti-corrosive properties. These coatings offer protection from rust that most paint brands do not.
It is also important to note that a coat of paint may make your work wheels look prettier, it does nothing to fix underlying structural issues. If rust, corrosion, or material damage isn’t properly fixed, you could be compromising the safety of your work crew.
Refinishing your wheels can be a tricky process that is usually best left to the experts. If paint is applied too thickly, it could cause a loss of clamping force. This can also be a problem if the paint has not been allowed to cure properly.
Another important thing to keep in mind when refinishing the wheels on your work truck is the DOT roll stamp. This stamp is required by law to always be visible when wheels are in use on public highways. If the stamp cannot be read, then the truck cannot be used, unless you want to risk a costly fine. So, if your new paint job renders the DOT roll stamp unreadable, you’ve basically rendered the wheels useless.
What Your Wheels are Made Of
The material of your work truck’s wheels affects their strength and durability. It is smart to choose a quality product from the beginning to safeguard against expensive replacement costs down the road.
It is also important to make sure that the wheel measurements are appropriate for the specs of your work vehicle. Always check your truck manufacturer’s recommendations. They are the ultimate experts on your vehicle, and their suggestions should not be taken lightly.
Wheels for utility work vehicles are generally made from one of two materials.
- Steel – The most basic wheel is the steel wheel. You won’t find anything fancy here, just strength and durability. Steel is relatively heavy, however. This means that steel wheels could add significant weight to your work truck. Keep this extra weight in mind when choosing this inexpensive, basic wheel design.
- Aluminum Alloy – Aluminum tends to be more malleable and less durable than steel. However, recent advancements in technology have produced a stronger aluminum alloy. Lighter in weight than steel, aluminum alloy wheels won’t add significant weight to your work vehicle. Many companies choose aluminum alloy for their wheels because it strikes a solid balance between cost, durability, and weight.
Whatever wheels you choose for your work truck, regular care and maintenance will extend the life of your wheels. Like with most things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take the daily steps necessary to keep your wheels in top condition, and they will repay you with years of dependable service.