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The wheels on a semi-truck are typically exposed to 100,000 miles of highway time in a single year. That’s a lot of revolutions for the hardware that keeps you pointed in the right direction. On an eighteen-wheel truck, you have five axles — each with two wheel ends at either end. Keeping each of the components in this system well-maintained is critical if you want your truck to have a long and trouble-free life. A good fleet wheel maintenance program should focus on protecting wheels from damage, excessive coatings, and corrosion, ensuring that lug nuts remain torqued during normal operation and maintaining wheel ends so bearings are correctly loaded and lubricated. The finish on your fleet’s wheels is constantly being eaten away by exposure to wind, road grime, harsh chemicals, and weather conditions depending on where you drive. Refinishing steel wheels and cleaning aluminum wheels is essential to preventing corrosion, as well as keeping your fleet compliant and safe. A DOT stamp is located on each production fleet truck wheel as a method of tracking wear. During your regular service intervals, it is important to remove wheels and verify that the stamp is still legible. If the DOT stamp cannot be easily seen, the wheel is deemed “out of service”.

The IMI MILCURE Steel Wheel Refinishing System

Operating a truck with corroded wheels is a risk you simply don’t want to take. The potential for a failure increases significantly with even a small amount of corrosion on your semi truck’s wheels, which is why it’s so important to make sure they’re well-maintained at all times. OSHA knows this, which is why they implemented regulations for the removal of dirt and rust from wheels in 1984. We promptly stepped up to deliver the industry’s first and only turnkey commercial steel wheel refinishing system. The IMI MILCURE Steel Wheel Refinishing System is the industry standard for keeping your semi truck wheels protected from the elements and is an essential service addition to your fleet maintenance program. Our industry-standard MILCURE Steel Wheel Refinishing System makes wheel maintenance simple. It takes  a wheel through a 3 step process where the wheel goes through an inspection, blasting, and refinishing process. The result is a wheel that will last longer and meet the safety requirements laid out by OHSA. The MILCURE system’s effectiveness comes from the use of unique shot blast method and a proprietary powder-coating process. IMI MILCURE Process Refinishing

The IMI ALUMINATOR Aluminum Wheel Cleaning System

If your fleet is driving on aluminum wheels, properly cleaning them will keep them safe and Our new IMI ALUMINATOR Aluminum Wheel Cleaning System is our solution that was developed with both safety and appearance in mind. We believe this is innovative because this process effectively removes grease, concrete, asphalt, brake dust, and corrosion, while cleaning the entire surface of an aluminum wheel rather than just one side. Your servicing dealer can now clearly identify hidden damage to fleet’s wheels that can lead to safety hazards on the road. “We intentionally engineered the entire system to clean without cutting or removing the wheels’ profile keeping the DOT stamp intact and the wheel compliant with industry standards,” said Bob Fogal. The IMI ALUMINATOR System is a 3-part process that will wash, clean, and finish aluminum wheels, giving them a clean, matte-like finish. An additional finish option can be chosen to shine the aluminum wheels. “Now there’s a safe way for fleets to maintain their aluminum wheels, which also cosmetically improves the fleets brand image. As a result, the fleet looks good to their customers, the public at large and to roadside safety inspection officers, all of which will help them operate more profitably.” adds Bob.

Lug Nut Tightness

The standard thickness of paint on a wheel is 3.5 mil to avoid lug nuts coming loose while on the road. Too many loose wheel nuts can result in a wheel coming off the axle, which is a situation you want to avoid. Installing a lug nut indicator system like CHECKPOINT is quick and easy. It allows your driver to keep up on lug nut maintenance while in the field as well as prevent a catastrophic wheel-offs. Why wouldn’t you incorporate something this simple into your fleet wheel maintenance program? The peace of mind alone is worth having CHECKPOINT installed on all of your trucks.

Wheel End Servicing

Including regular wheel-end service into your fleet maintenance program will help you save costs and extend the life of your wheels. Allowing wheel-ends to run tight or loose can result in uneven tire wear, wobbling and unpredictable handling on the road, abnormal braking performance, and even smoke coming from the axles of your truck. To service your wheel-ends, check bearing tightness regularly. Your truck’s manufacturer will have a spec for the tightness of the bearings in your wheel ends that you should be sure to follow closely. Begin your service by removing the hub cap and draining the old oil. Clean the internal components, including the bearings, with a strong solvent and then re-pack the bearing with new grease. Replace the inner bearing and new seal according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then apply a thin coat of grease where the seal and wear ring meet. Place the wheel back on the hub and use a pump to pack the hub cavity about half-way with fresh grease. Pack the outer bearing and reinstall it and then use a dial indicator to verify that there is no play in the wheel before you replace the hub cap. Finally, add another light coat of grease to the inside of the hub cap but do not cover the vent on the cap. If the cap uses bolts, torque them to the manufacturer’s specs. If it is a screw-on cap, apply grease to the threads and then install it as normal.

Why Wheel Maintenance for Fleets Is Crucial

The cost to replace a single truck wheel is upwards of $100 an axle — prices start in the mid-thousands for a single unit. An active fleet wheel maintenance program keep your trucks traveling safely, extends the life of your tires, and creates less downtime, increasing your fleets productivity. Your drivers will appreciate the peace of mind that comes with a well-maintained vehicle. By getting things right at the wheel ends, you will maximize the life of your tires — a wear item that will require replacement without question. Download our Truck Maintenance Guide to learn more about wheel-end maintenance!