In light of the heavy, heavy flooding sustained in Texas/Louisiana and the Southeast due to Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma there is a very real possibility that many trucks and trailers were stored in areas that had very high water. Loading docks often flood even if the general area wasn’t subject to high water. So even areas with limited flooding could still have trailers stored in areas that gathered water in more depth.
Water above the axle of trucks and trailers can penetrate hub assemblies and cause significant damage. Inspection and/or service of wheel hubs lubricant in trucks and trailers is highly recommended for equipment that may have been in high water.
Water contamination of the bearing lubricant can contribute to the failure of the hub assembly and result in the separation of the wheel assembly from the vehicle while in operation. Wheel assembly runoffs can result in damage, injury, and even death.
At the minimum, a visual inspection of the hub lubricant is recommended. Oil with a small amount of water added will tend to become a milky white color. Semi fluid grease will also change color, however, the color change will depend on the grease’s base color.
Fleets should develop a methodology to ensure trailers parked at customer locations are inspected before they are moved. Simple solutions like applying a decal indicating a trailer has been inspected and or serviced can help ensure large fleets inspect all equipment.
Contaminated lubricant should be removed from the hub assembly and replaced with new lubricant. The hub cavity and all parts should be thoroughly cleaned to ensure the removal of all contaminated lubricant. Parts and seals should be inspected and confirmed to be free of damage or debris.