MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Why Do 18-Wheelers Have Spiked Wheels?

Driving next to an 18-wheeler can be a bit of a nail-biter. Especially when you see some of the truck’s wheels covered in metal spikes. What are those spikes even there for?

They may look menacing, but they’re actually not there to terrify you. The main purpose of wheel spikes is to simply cover the wheel’s lug nuts. Given how many miles 18-wheelers regularly travel, it’s no wonder that semi lug nuts suffer more wear & tear than those of other vehicles. Those spikes shield the 18-wheeler’s lug nuts from dirt & keep them dry from precipitation, which keeps them from rusting & helps prevent them from loosening. Those spike covers are usually sturdy enough to do the job, but they aren’t always as indestructible as they appear. A good many are made out of plastic manufactured to look like chrome.

But why do so many truck drivers seem to opt for pointed covers, as opposed to flat ones? Well, it’s likely more a style choice than anything else. Because when you’re cruising the highways in your truck for dozens of hours a week, you might be inclined to trick it out a little, just like an office employee might do with their office cubicle.

And, if the flashy spikes catch your eye & remind you to keep some distance between your vehicle & the 18-wheeler, that’s not a bad thing. Truck drivers have pretty substantial blind spots along the sides their trucks (as well as the front and back), so accidents are more likely to take place when an approaching car strays into one of these so-called “no-zones.” So, from that perspective, the spikes might not just be protecting the lug nuts. They could also be saving you, the truck driver, and everyone else on the road.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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