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Watch: Detailing heavy-duty truck bearing maintenance, fuel efficiency gains

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Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

To squeeze the most fuel savings out of your next truck spec, you might want to extend efficiency gains out to your wheel end through the spec’ing of high-efficiency bearings for that extra fraction of fuel efficiency gain. While a fraction of a percentage might not seem like a lot for one truck, spread it out across your entire fleet and the savings can build up fast.

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Bearings are often hidden inside other equipment like axles and transmissions, but can deliver significant fuel efficiency benefits if properly designed and specified. If used at both axle center and wheel end applications, high efficiency bearings can save as much as 1.6% at the vehicle level. At 100,000 miles per year at 6 MPG, that equates to 195 gallons of fuel per year, according to Timken.

Keeping bearings free of contaminants is key to keeping them rolling efficiently. In many shops, wheel maintenance is usually the arena of the least experienced technician on the fleet’s payroll. Fleets would be wise to ensure that the technicians on wheel-end duty are well versed in the proper cleaning and lubrication procedures to maintain specialized bearings. That means following the TMC recommended wheel bearing adjustment practice (Recommended Practice 618A) in order to prevent bearing failure.

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