The Department for Transport is to undertake independent testing to verify research from Motor Wheel Service that found commercial vehicles operating on non-circumferential hubs are prematurely damaging industry approved wheels.
During the meeting between Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, John Ellis, managing director of Motor Wheel Service and Paul Goggins, Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, it was also confirmed that VOSA will look to ascertain the number of vehicles operating on non-standard hubs, also known as spider and star shaped hubs.
The initial investigation, carried out on an LBF machine by one of the world’s leading CV wheel experts, Dr. Sundararajan of Wheels India, found that non-circumferential hubs, which give only partial contact between axle and wheel, are causing untested load stresses which cause cracks and half life expectancy.
At present all quality wheels are tried and tested to European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation (ETRTO) standards on a circumferential hub with a continuous contact diameter, which is universally acknowledged as the main criterion by the Association of European Wheel Manufacturers (EUWA).
Ellis said: "The Minister listened astutely to our findings and stated that the DfT will undertake published, independent research and instruct VOSA to ascertain the scale of the issue. No timescale has yet been set, but we will continue to liaise with Government and assist wherever possible.
"I would like to publicly thank the Minister for listening to our research and immediately instigating decisive action. His unequivocal commitment to safety is mirrored by Paul Goggins MP, who has backed our wheel safety campaign and who has continued to push hard to get us to this juncture.
Goggins added: "This is a very positive outcome to the dialogue we have been having with the Minister. I commend John Ellis for his determination to get to the bottom of this issue. Road safety is an absolute priority."
Motor Wheel Service has stated that operators may be required to contact hub and wheel manufacturers as products originally replaced or refunded under warranty may no longer be considered if the product is shown to have operated on a non-circumferential hub.
In addition, due to the differing characteristics of the various hub shapes, interchangeability can be affected as mounting those wheels on hubs with yet another shape can further drastically reduce the attachment area leading to increased surface pressure and an undefined attachment of wheel to hub.
The company argues that vehicle maintenance, service schedules and MOT tests will also need to be more rigorous, suggesting that operators contact VOSA and the main CV organisations for their interpretation of the findings.
Ellis concluded: "The research is undeniable. Wheels designed and manufactured to ETRTO standards are being placed on axles that are non-standard, or non-circumferential. This is leading to the early fatigue of wheels, primarily displayed as cracks, approximately halfway through the lifetime expectancy.
"The wheel safety issue is still a number one priority and we will continue to push for further clarification of testing and unregulated sellers. In the interim I urge any operator concerned with the findings to contact VOSA, CV organisations, manufacturers or MWS and we will help resolve this issue."