Even though the driver in a nearby vehicle is a crash dummy, the point from a training video is clear: truck-tire wheel-off events on the nation’s highways can be catastrophic. That’s why Michelin Americas Truck Tires is using National Tire Safety Week (June 6-12, 2010) to remind fleet operators, drivers, and owner-operators to follow a tire inspection routine to help ensure greater tire and wheel-end safety.
“When wheel-off events occur, they can result in damage to property or people, and the main culprit of these events is a lack of a basic, routine maintenance,” said Doug Jones, customer engineering support manager, Michelin Americas Truck Tires. “Many fleets and owner-operators have a regular maintenance program that includes checking the tires on their trucks and trailers, but anyone who doesn’t have a program should consider starting one right now.”
The most critical element of any tire maintenance program is maintaining correct tire pressure. Drivers should have an accurate pressure gauge and be instructed to check the tires on their truck each day—all the tires, including inner duals. Another major safety issue that can often be avoided through proper maintenance checks is wheel-offs or runaway wheels, as well as wheel-end fires.
During the pre- or post-trip inspection, drivers should inspect the entire wheel end, including tire, wheel, studs and fasteners, hub area, and brakes. While there are many different methods for tightening wheel fasteners, the most accurate approach has traditionally been the manual torque wrench. Whatever method is selected, the end result on disc wheels must be 450 to 500 foot-pounds of torque on each fastener.
In a combined effort with the Tire Industry Association (TIA), Michelin produced a video outlining the steps needed to ensure wheel-end safety and help avoid wheel-offs or wheel-end fires. The video shows a controlled test with a standard low-profile truck tire striking a stationary vehicle at about 55 miles per hour. The vehicle is moved almost 4 inches and the damage to the driver’s door and door jamb is significant. After hitting the vehicle, the inflated tire finally comes to rest almost 100 feet in the opposite direction.