Best Practices For Maintaining Heavy-Duty Truck Axles

Heavy-duty truck in shop for axle maintenance

Ever wondered what keeps those heavy-duty trucks rolling along with grace? The answer lies in the often-overlooked heroes of the road: truck axles. 

In this guide, we'll unveil the nitty-gritty of truck axle maintenance, from the critical steer axle that lets you steer your truck to the drive axles that keep your truck moving. Whether you're navigating city streets or highways, understanding these axles is key to a smooth journey. Let's dive into how to maintain these workhorses effectively.

Types of Truck Axles

Axles, the unsung backbone of heavy-duty trucks, come in three distinct flavors — steer axles, drive axles, and trailer axles. Each type plays a unique role in keeping your rig moving forward. 

The steer axle, perched at the front, does the job of steering the truck, allowing you to turn on the interstate, maneuver tight corners, and park in tricky spots. Meanwhile, the drive axles, which are located at the back of your tractor, channel the engine's power to the wheels, propelling you forward with power.

And let's not forget trailer axles, positioned under the trailer to support the load and help distribute weight evenly. These three axles work in harmony, ensuring your truck remains balanced and operational. 

Best Practices For Maintaining Truck Axles

Want to unlock the most out of your preventive maintenance schedule? Make sure you take these five factors into consideration:

Keep Your Wheel Ends in Check

Wheel ends might not grab your attention, but they are essentially what connects your axles to your wheels. They consist of components like seals, bearings, and hubcaps, working together to keep your axles running smoothly.

Experts advise upgrading your truck with advanced wheel hub and end technology as the first step of preventive maintenance, as it offers benefits like simplified maintenance and cost savings over time. Like we always preach, investing more money in OEM-quality parts and advanced technology will generally lead to a higher return on your investment and help you avoid costly unplanned repairs

Another tip is to ensure you’re giving your wheel ends proper torque treatment, as insufficient or excessive torque can lead to stud failure over time — you don’t want to find yourself on the side of the highway with an overstretched stud. 

Bearings always seem to be the crux of the matter, especially in your wheel ends. It’s highly recommended you keep your wheel end bearings clean by putting them in a solvent bath to eliminate any foreign substances. This will help ensure the bearings are thoroughly cleaned, which will directly contribute to prolonging your wheel end's lifespan after re-installation.

Place a Focus on Your Steer Axle

The steer axle is generally the focus of most truck axle repair appointments, as it dictates maneuverability and requires a frequent service interval of (roughly) every 25,000 miles. For steer axles, or any axle for all that matters, lubrication is pivotal — apply grease until fresh grease emerges, purging contaminants and flushing out debris. Preventing foreign matter from entering is equally vital to extend the steer axle's life.

Inspect your Drive Axles

Though less visible and cared for, drive axles are no less important. To keep them in prime condition, we suggest you get them checked before the standard 500,000 first-service interval to make sure everything is running like it should be. 

During that inspection, investigate any lubricant leakage, and if you find any, get it patched up as soon as possible. We also suggest you ensure you're using the right lubricant and that the fluid level is on point. Also, check the fluid for funky discoloration and metallic residue — if there is discoloration, it’s most likely caused by water that may have entered the axle through the vent. 

By giving your drive axles some TLC, you're ensuring that they don't just survive, but thrive.

Don't Forget About The Vents

If you’ve got water in your axles, it’s most likely a problem with the location of your axle vents. On the other hand, oil leaks may be caused by a clogged or plugged axle vent. 

Axle vents, perched at the top, help maintain pressure as the axle heats up during operation. If that vent gets plugged prepare for a visit to the nearest repair shop. So, while it might not be at the forefront of your visual inspections, checking those vents is an easy step that can keep your tractor running without a hitch.

Inspect The Suspension

Suspensions aren't just for a cushy ride; they play a crucial role in maintaining the truck's stability and overall performance. To keep your ride smooth and steady, don't skimp on suspension maintenance — regular inspections are your best friend. 

It is recommended you lubricate the spring hangers and shackles, pamper those shock absorbers, retorque leaf springs periodically if you’re running that setup, and give those air springs a thorough scan if you’ve opted for an air ride suspension. 

Also, watch out for wear, heat cracks, and any hint of corrosion. After all, a happy suspension leads to happy tires, and that means less money spent on maintenance and repairs.

Final Words

In the world of heavy-duty trucking, neglect is not an option. Just as the road ahead is unpredictable, so are the challenges that your truck axles may face. By embracing these best practices for axle maintenance, you're not just safeguarding your investment; you're securing your fleet's efficiency, safety, and longevity.

Remember, every mile counts, and every maintenance step paves the way for countless trouble-free journeys. Whether it's inspecting wheel ends, caring for your steer axle, tending to drive axles, checking axle vents, or giving your suspension the care it deserves, the path to reliability starts with understanding and dedication.

At Adrenaline Diesel, we stand by your side as your trusted partners in axle care. Our skilled technicians and state-of-the-art facilities are equipped to handle all your truck driveline repair needs. Don't wait for a breakdown to remind you of the importance of axle care – reach out today and let us be your partners in keeping your heavy-duty trucks on the road, safe, and performing at their best. After all, it's not just about repairing axles; it's about ensuring your trucks are performing at their maximum.

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