The Wheel-Off Accident: Why Wheels Come off Moving Trucks
January 12th, 2017 by Patrick Hogan
A rogue 200 pound truck wheel bounding toward your windshield is the stuff of nightmares. These highway missiles can roll long distances and bound 15 feet into the air. An especially dangerous scenario is a truck wheel that bounces over a divider separating the opposing traffic lanes of an interstate highway. Another, is a wheel-off occurring in an urban area, which endangers road traffic and pedestrians on sidewalks.
The wheel of a semi truck or its trailer can come off when the wheel bearings fail. However, a common reason is incorrect wheel installation. This happens when the lug nuts are installed with too little or too much torque. Preventing this problem requires following the correct procedures to the letter and using torque limiting wrenches (both un-powered and air driven types).
When There’s Too Little Torque
Failure to use a torque wrench, using a defective pneumatic wrench, damaged or rusted threads, or failure to use a thread lubricant when it’s required are some of the common ways that loose lug nut installation occurs. When the lug nuts are loose, so are the wheels. This stresses and breaks the threaded studs, which allows the wheel to break free.
When There’s Too Much Torque
Failure to use a torque wrench, using air powered impact wrenches, and using a thread lubricant when none is required will over-tighten lug nuts. Properly torqued lug nuts will cause the studs to stretch a bit. These will return to their normal lengths when the lug nut is removed. However, over-tightened lug nuts will stretch the studs beyond their breaking point. The broken studs again allow the wheel to break free.
Although a wheel-off incident can cause a truck accident, the more common victims are the driving public and pedestrians. These tragedies stem from failing to follow simple procedures. If this negligence caused harm to you or someone you love, don’t hesitate to contact us at Hogan Injury for a free initial consultation.
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