Regular and comprehensive maintenance is crucial if any owner/operator or fleet manager wants to keep their heavy-duty truck on the road. During this type of service visit, a mechanic will need to pay much attention to the engines and transmission to ensure that consumable parts are replaced, tolerances are observed and efficiency is achieved. Yet, they also need to pay particular attention to parts of the suspension, especially with safety in mind. Above all, they need to ensure that the wheel bearings are still in good condition and, crucially, reinstalled correctly. What do you need to bear in mind when it comes to servicing those bearings?
Much At Stake
The wheel bearings on a heavy tractor have to deal with tremendous wear and tear. After all, they are the interphase between the moving wheel and the static hub and also need to deal with high temperatures and friction. Unfortunately, inattention to detail or improper installation can often lead to a catastrophic failure. In this case, the entire wheel assembly could break off with disastrous consequences.
Wheel bearings will need to be replaced on a prescribed basis, which should occur during a major service. When this happens, the technician will need to take a very close look at the hub and spindle to check for any damage and ensure that the thread is still in perfect condition. If necessary, the spindle nuts will need to be replaced to avoid any potential issues with cross-threading. The mechanic will also need to conduct a close inspection to look for cracks or other deterioration in the entire hub assembly.
The bearing needs to be reattached with precision. The entire hub must be correctly supported while pressure is applied, and it's crucial to use the proper tools. When the bearing is in place, a special calibration tool must be applied to check for any bearing end play and ensure that it is within acceptable tolerances. Bearings cannot be excessively tightened as this would almost certainly lead to premature failure.
Bearings must only be tightened with care and always through the use of proper tools. Otherwise, this could lead to a buildup of heat and damage to the all-important seal. If this were to fail, then lubricant could find its way onto the brake shoes and cause issues with retardation.
Once the bearings are properly lubricated, the mechanic should double-check the installation of the seals before replacing the hubcaps. Again, a specialty tool is required to locate the seal properly, and each vehicle manufacturer will typically have their own purpose-made tool for this job.
Bearings are some of the most important components when it comes to servicing a heavy vehicle like this. Always ensure that you pay close attention to their condition and reinstallation. Contact a local truck service to learn more.