While waiting to be loaded at one of my regular customers this week, I was reminded of the importance of one critical truck part that often goes unnoticed. Funny thing was that it wasn’t on a heavy-duty truck this time, but rather a fork truck sitting while the loader checked the load. Lugnuts are one of the smallest things on our trucks, yet one of the most critical! Their job of holding the tire and wheel to the hub end of the axle is often taken for granted and frequently overlooked in safety checks.
Even on my equipment, I will admit that I have overlooked these important little fixtures at one time or another. On one of my trailers pulled by someone else, it was discovered that one was missing on a 90-day BIT inspection and replaced. Not only does it unbalance the entire assembly, it also can lead to vibration in the wheel/hub assembly, causing other lugs to loosen themselves, which in a worst-case scenario can send your wheel flying across the road off your truck! I have seen the aftermath of this happening and if a collision occurs with that heavy wheel assembly that comes loose, it is usually not too pretty what happens to the recipient of that tire and wheel on the receiving end. Fatalities have occurred from just this kind of event and the saddest part is that it is completely preventable!
Whether on a fork truck or a “truck” truck, the job of the humble lugnut is just as important. The stability and safety of the entire truck-to-ground assembly rely on these little beauties being properly torqued and secure. There are devices around to ensure inspecting them is made easier such as lug arrows with directional indicators that become misaligned if a lug becomes loose. One surefire and easy method is to do what I saw on this fork truck and draw a line on the lug and the wheel to make it easy to see when one becomes loose. Even though I have shiny lugnut covers on, it is as easy as taking a couple minutes to loosen them and check the lugnuts, making sure I ensure the safety of my entire ride for the day! It is often the smallest part that can cause the biggest problem, so be sure not to overlook this tiny, but largely important part of your truck and trailer pretrip each and every day!