I’ve been doing haulage work for years, and my worst nightmare is losing a wheel when I’m on a job. I’ve heard about it from other unlucky drivers but so far, I’ve been spared -and that is thanks to proper care and maintenances of my truck’s wheels and tyres. |
Riding On Our Wheels
Let’s face it, it’s the wheels that keep us rolling. They are what make our industry possible and they are also perhaps the most overworked part of our trucks. They also play a crucial role in keeping us and the road using public safe. So they really do deserve special attention all the time to be sure that they are safe and roadworthy.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recently issued a set of guidelines that are aimed at increasing wheel safety. They say, in the preamble to the guidelines, that two of the main reasons for wheel loss during a journey are bad quality replacement parts and the wheel fixing mechanism coming loose after its initial tightening. The DVSA’s guidelines go on to say that proper maintenance of wheels to ensure that they are securely fixed is a vital part of the vehicles’ maintenance schedule and can help drivers avoid that frightening and often deadly experience of losing a wheel.
What Are the DSVA’s Recommendations?
Even experienced drivers who have spent years doing haulage work need reminding about best practices. So here are the main recommendations:
1. Whenever wheels are being refitted (after wheel change/brake replacement etc.) make sure that a light film of oil is applied to all wheel fixing threads as well as the nut to captive washer interface. 2. Only use a calibrated torque wrench to tighten wheel fixings. Never use a long bar or power tools for the final tightening. 3. Only tighten to the manufacturer’s recommended torque definitions and in the correct sequence. In the event that no sequence is given, gradually tighten diametrically opposed nuts until all are securely tightened. 4. Always check for cracks in your truck’s wheels, especially when fitting fixtures are found. Replace all wheels where there is even a suspicion of damage. 5. Make sure that there is no distortion or wear to wheel and nut seats and the surrounding area. Improper or over tightening of cone or spherical sets can distort the seating edge, which will affect the proper seating of twin wheels. Replace if there is any suspicion of damage. 6. All mounting interfaces must be thoroughly checked to ensure that there is no corrosion, damage or dirt. 7. Avoid pain on the interface surfaces! As paint softens when exposed to heat, heat generated by braking or travelling could reduce wheel clamping efficiency and looseness. 8. All wheel fittings should be checked at the start of every shift. Use a calibrated torque wrench or other suitable equipment to perform the check. If this is added to the driver’s “walk around” inspection, make sure that they are properly trained. 9. Note any wheel nuts that repeatedly become loose. If this is a regular occurrence, check for causes and take appropriate action to resolve the situation. 10. Wheels must be maintained and serviced only by staff trained to do so. All maintenance procedures, replacements etc. must be recorded and saved.
Most drivers and operators involved in haulage work are aware of these recommendations. However, we are human and can become complacent. Then, if we’re pressed for time, the temptation exists to skip some of these vital checks. But if we remember that our safety and that of other road users may depend on them, then haulage work will be a lot safer!
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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