Take Steps To Prevent Wheel-End Problems

A close-up of tractor truck wheels.

Wheel-end components are essential to safety, and properly maintaining and inspecting wheel ends, which include the wheels, rims, hubs and tires on a commercial motor vehicle, is essential for over-the-road performance.

Regular Maintenance Inspections

Wheel ends need to undergo periodic detailed inspections. Manufacturer recommendations for inspection intervals can vary, but typically range from every 50,000 miles or every six months to 100,000 miles or every 12 months.

Pre-, During- and Post-Trip Inspections

Completing pre-, during and post-trip inspections can help drivers identify issues before they become a larger issue, prevent an out-of-service violation and keep the truck safe on the road. Drivers need to check the condition of wheel-end components and look for any signs of wheel-bearing problems.

Know the Signs of Wheel-End Problems

If drivers experience any of these symptoms, it’s a good bet that wheel ends need maintenance or repair:

  • Lubricant leaks
  • Abnormal or uneven tire wear
  • Hubcaps that are too hot to touch
  • Smoke from a wheel end
  • Wheel vibration, wobble or noise
  • Increased stopping distance
  • Decreased braking power
  • Abnormal side pull when braking
  • Wheel lock-up or skidding
  • Increasingly loud, abnormal noises from the hub area

Wheel-End Items Inspectors Often Check

  • During an inspection, law enforcement officers will look for these wheel-end problems:
  • Cracked locking rings, studs or clamps
  • Bent, cracked or broken rims (inside and outside)
  • Loose, broken, missing or damaged wheel fasteners and elongated stud holes
  • Cracks across spokes and in the web area or slippage in the clamp areas
  • Lubricant leaks, missing caps or plugs in wheel hubs
  • Inner wheel seal leaks
  • Tire and valve stem leaks
  • Proper tire inflation
  • Regrooved tires on steering axle
  • Tread wear and major tread groove depth
  • Improper repairs such as tire plugs in sidewalls
  • Exposed fabric or cord
  • Tires touching one another or any part of the vehicle
  • Debris between the tires
  • Markings on tires that would exclude their use on a steering axle