Wheel separation on tractor trailers happens more frequently than people think - and it can be deadly. Truck accident attorneys deal with numerous cases every year involving tractor trailer accidents caused by wheel separation. Preventing these accidents through good maintenance and the proper observation is important, and something all truck drivers must pay attention to. It may take a few minutes longer every day, but by using these few simple tips, truck technicians and drivers can avoid wheel separation events, and the potentially the devastating tractor trailer accidents that can occur as a result.
Wheel Bearing Replacement
Due to the number of miles a truck and trailer log every year, wheel bearings are a common maintenance item that require replacement after a while. Certain parts of these bearings can sometime be reused, as long as they are thoroughly inspected and found to be in good enough condition - but this is a decision that must be made carefully. Nuts and bolts can be reused when there is no evidence of thread stripping. The bearing assembly itself should never be reused if there is any evidence of dragging, or non-smooth surfaces - which is common. Reusing bearing parts that should be replaced simply invites a dangerous breakdown - like a wheel separation.
Wheel Bearing Adjustment
There are a few different types of wheel bearings available for big trucks, each of which requires a different procedure for installation and adjustment. While most technicians may not have a problem getting the bearings on, adjustment is a different story. It is essential that anyone installing truck bearings, understand the way that bearing should be adjusted, and have practice in doing so. Improperly adjusted wheel bearings causes accelerated bearing failure, which is a main cause of wheel separation.
Wheel Hubs and Studs
When truck wheels are removed for tire changes, rotations, or any other reason, it is essential that the wheel hubs be cleaned and inspected before the wheels are put back on. Dirt and debris that build up on the hub can work its way under the hub bolts, gradually pushing the bolts off and loosening the wheel, or building up on the studs so they eventually break off. Also, it is imperative that re-fastened wheels are torqued correctly, and not over-torqued, which is very common. Wheel studs do require a minute amount of space to stretch as a loaded truck is in motion. When this is prevented because the bolts are over-torqued, the studs can break off, often causing wheel separation. Wheels should also be re-torqued after being driven about 100 miles so they are not too loose - but again, the correct amount of torque is essential.
Driver Inspection of Wheels
Truck accident attorneys suggest that before any driver gets behind the wheel of their truck, it is their duty to inspect their vehicle for obvious or potential problems that could cause breakdowns, or in worse cases - tractor trailer accidents. Part of these daily inspections should include checking each wheel and tire - especially the inside ones - for signs of excess wear, leaking bearing fluid on the tires, missing oil caps on hubcaps, and signs that wheel nuts are loosening.
By paying attention to these details when trucks and trailers are serviced - and on a daily basis - truck technicians and drivers can help prevent tractor trailer accidents caused by wheel separation. Rather than having to deal with truck accident attorneys, ensuring that trucks receive proper maintenance, and noticing the signs that could lead to problems, is well worth a driver's, or technician's time!
Pearland, Pasadena, Webster, League City, Webser, Manvel, Alvin, Friendswood, La Marque, Texas City, and Galveston
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190
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