Wheel off prevention

runaway tire rolling on road

The news lately has been full of stories regarding trucks losing tires and wheels. About 95% of these issues can be traced to 2 causes, both of which are easily detected by even a cursory pretrip inspection.

The first and most common cause is loose lug nuts. Any time a time is unmounted from the truck and remounted, It should be retorqued within 100 kms (62 miles) at most. Failure to have them retorqued could lead to the lugs coming loose and the tire coming off at highway speed. If it’s on the steering axle, you will feel the tire wobbling as the lugs start to come loose. If anything feels odd in the steering wheel, pull over immediately, have it checked out and corrected before continuing to drive. Don’t let anyone pressure you into driving to a repair facility, it’s just too dangerous.

The second leading cause of tire separation is a leaking wheel seal. Again, even a cursory pretrip will detect this, as evidenced by oil on the wheel rim, and not enough oil visible in the hub cap. If the oil level is low, top it off, and keep an eye on it throughout the day. If the oil level continues to drop, have the seals inspected and replaced as necessary. If the level stays constant, then you only need keep an eye on it periodically. A dry wheel seal if left unchecked will cause massive friction in the bearings, which will eventually lead to the bearing failing, which in turn will either cause the wheel to come off, or the bearing will seize, and the wheel will stop turning. On the steering axle, that will almost always lead to a serious accident.

So always check you hub oilers, and carry some hub oil with you at all times. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.