October 30, 2023

Keeping Moisture Out of Wheel Ends This Winter

logging truck driving on a snowy street

Here at STEMCO, we often talk about how preparation is one of the best ways to make the roadways safer. As the seasons change, it’s important to make simple updates to your fleet such as checking your tire pressure and changing your windshield wipers, but it’s just as important to make defensive seasonal adjustments to your fleet in order to expand the lifespan of various truck parts. In this blog, we will focus on the importance of keeping moisture out of your wheel ends and highlight some ways that drivers and fleet managers can prevent it from happening specifically during fall and winter.

No matter where the road takes your fleet during fall and winter, it’s during these seasons that drivers often experience the highest levels of precipitation. If tires and wheel ends aren’t protected or monitored correctly, moisture can very easily seep into various parts of the wheel end, compromising its integrity and lifespan.

Why worry about wet wheel ends?

Protecting your wheel ends from contaminants can enhance both the performance and life span on multiple parts of the vehicles in your fleet. If wheel ends are not properly sealed and protected from the elements, the lubricant inside of the wheel-end can become contaminated and eventually spread dirt and debris throughout the entire wheel end. This process can then lead to cut, frayed or torn seals, triggering rapid loss of lubrication and complete seal failure. From there the problems can only intensify, potentially leading to any number of safety hazards including wheel off conditions or fires.

Another reason why it’s important to control the amount of moisture that gets on and into the various parts of your assets is rust prevention. Water will often dilute the original wheel end lubricant, which can lead to higher operating temperatures and over time result in seized bearings or wheel end components. Vehicles exposed to too much rusting or corrosion can have a dramatic effect on the handling and steering of a truck. Vehicles can become harder to steer and shakiness while driving can occur. In extreme cases, corrosion will break down metals grinding on each other and result in a sudden falter during transit.

If preventative measures aren’t taken to protect the wheel ends of your fleet, water, debris, roadway chemicals or oil splatters can find their way into wheel ends. While it’s impossible to actively prevent all contaminants from wearing on different parts of a truck, there are tools and methods that can severely reduce their long term wearing effects.

Strengthen your defense with STEMCO seals

With varying weather and road conditions, it’s crucial to apply fleet solutions that are designed to withstand changing temperatures while maintaining a firm and reinforced seal to keep moisture out of wheel ends. STEMCO has a sweeping array of wheel end seals, each uniquely created to meet the performance and design requirements for any fleet. No matter which STEMCO seal you choose, all of them are designed to stifle wheel end contamination and are manufactured with high-quality temperature-resistant material.

STEMCO’s most advanced seal is the Discover XR. With its four-zone labyrinth, it provides unmatched contaminant exclusion and premium sealing. Paired with STEMCO’s patented GlideLock™ technology, fleet managers can easily install this wheel end seal and have confidence that it’s sealed correctly. GlideLock reduces installation force by 50% and doesn’t require prelube, making efficient installation easier than ever. Easy installation means less seal failure modes like cocked seals or excessive heat generation.

Keep water and debris out with ESP and ESP Plus

The key to safe and effective wheel end performance during all seasons (but especially in the winter) is keeping essential lubricants in your wheel ends while keeping contaminants out. By keeping the bearings, lubricant and other parts inside the wheel end protected from water, dirt, dust and other debris, your entire vehicle will have a better chance of operating more smoothly for longer periods of time before maintenance is required.

While regularly monitoring your wheel end conditions can help keep water and debris out, the best tool that will keep wheel ends dry and protected is the STEMCO ESP series of hub cap plugs. By using either the ESP or ESP Plus, fleet managers can proactively protect the lubricant integrity by preventing moisture and other contaminants from entering the hub assembly.

ESP and ESP Plus are brilliant components because they’re simple but also extremely effective at protecting the wheel hub. These hub cap plugs were created with an advanced design and innovative shielding that keeps your wheel ends dry and secure. ESP is water resistant while ESP Plus is fully waterproof thanks to its GoreTex membrane. Both of these products were also designed with optimal venting, allowing centralized pressure relief.

For fleet managers that don’t already have hub cap plugs implemented across their fleet, be sure to check out the ESP and ESP Plus product page to see which product will fit the needs of your fleet best this winter. Be sure to explore our Wheelhouse Blog for other tips for keeping your fleet in top shape all year round.

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Has Prerequisite
A man applying grit guard to a wheel end

TQM Wheel End Part 2 – Grit Guard® Installation

Requires TQM Wheel End Training Part 1

Has Prerequisite
A man installing a Guardian HP Wheel Seal

TQM Wheel End Part 2 – Guardian® HP Installation

Requires TQM Wheel End Training Part 1

Has Prerequisite
a man in front of an unassembled wheel bearing

TQM Wheel End Part 2 – Discover®/Voyager® Installation

Requires TQM Wheel End Training Part 1