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Commercial Tires

Keeping Up Appearances

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Wheels need proper maintenance to look and perform their best – and new wheel-end technology provides a finished package.

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Bright, shiny wheels make a great impression. A good wheel needs to be behind that shine. Finding the best wheels and properly maintaining them offers paybacks in reliability and performance.

Step one in the process is finding wheels with protective finishes. Alcoa said it offers several finishes that not only protect the wheels, but also help a fleet maintain a favorable image.

Alcoa’s Dura-Bright line of aluminum wheels can be cleaned easily with just soap and water, keeping the maintenance time to a minimum, according to Sharon Levine, marketing communications associate for Alcoa. These highly polished wheels have a surface treatment that is durable, she says, “and if maintained properly, they will last for years.”

Alcoa also has a Dura-Flange wheel that has a hardened coating on the rim flange. “This will help out the fleets that have excessive rim flange wear due to environmental issues,” said Levine.

According to Accuride, to protect wheels and promote good fleet image, the company offers a powder topcoat on its steel wheels, which it says has been proven to last twice as long as a standard single-layer coating. In addition, the company offers Accu-Shield on its aluminum wheels, which it says has a bright, clear appearance allowing wheels to be cleaned easily with just mild soap and water.

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Hayes-Lemmerz says most of its commercial wheels come standard with acrylic electro-deposition primer; it recommends going to premium powder topcoat for superior corrosion protection. As for the aftermarket products, it does not specify anything different than used on OEM products. The company noted its wide-base options are supplied with a topcoat (either powder or liquid).

Fleet managers need to make sure wheels are kept looking good and are in good repair, notes Alcoa. It recommends cleaning frequently with high-pressure water and a mild detergent. Do not clean these wheels with any kind of abrasive because it may scratch the surface. In addition to Dura-Bright wheels, the company also offers a line of highly polished wheels. You will need to polish them from time to time to maintain their shine, but with just a little work, these wheels will stay good looking, the company says.

Accuride said it’s easy for fleets to keep their aluminum (except for the Accu-Shield wheels, which need only mild soap and water cleaning) and steel wheels looking good by using Accuride and Chrome Shop Mafia’s co-branded line of “Built by the Boyz” truck detailing products.

Hayes Lemmerz always recommends keeping the wheels and mating components clean from salt, rust, grease, dirt, – especially the hub mounting surfaces, pilot, and nut seats (stud piloted wheels). Listed in the company product catalog are details on the proper inspection of hub piloted and stud piloted wheels.

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Wheel-end technology provides additional options for fleets. There have been significant advancements in wheelend technologies for reducing maintenance for the heavy truck market,” says Dan Souhan, product manager for Dana Holding Corp. “One of the most popular options today is Dana’s LMS (low maintenance system) hub, which can provide significant savings for vehicle owners, including the ability to allow fleets to realize reduced maintenance costs and time in the shop. Since a truck only makes money when it is on the road, this is an easy value-added feature for the vehicle purchaser.”

Souhan added that Dana’s LMS hubs are designed to achieve 500,000 miles on line haul applications, with some customers having experienced trouble-free service life in excess of 900,000 miles. The LMS hub includes a high quality spacer, special tolerance bearings and premium seal for ensuring precision bearing setting and advanced sealing technologies for improving wheel-end life.

“The complete system supports the need for improved vehicle performance and lower cost of ownership,” said Souhan. “Another benefit to the LMS hub is that the LMS components can push-out conventional service intervals well beyond a fleet’s trade cycle. This is true in both line-haul and vehicles used in more demanding applications.”

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Some truck OEMs have already made Dana’s low maintenance features standard, so Souhan advised, “The cost of user-specified options for low maintenance components should be justified based on future maintenance/service cost avoidance, increased resale value and improved performance results.”

Souhan said that Dana has experienced continuous growth in customer specified LMS components. “Actual vehicle results and customer value with these components have prompted Dana to include many low maintenance features as standard in the company’s new family of integral-arm steer axles,” said Souhan. “These new axles include Dana’s low maintenance patented kingpin technology, improved tie-rod ends and thrust bearings. The steer axles only require to be re-lubed every 100,000 miles, while some competitive axles still require maintenance every 15,000 miles.”

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