From time to time, I'm going to use this space to dispel a myth about the truck tire and wheel industry. It will usually be a practice or procedure that “everyone does,” in spite of the fact that very few actually understand the reason or the effect. The bottom line of the myth can range from an unnecessary expense to a matter of life and death. In the case of anti-seize compounds, both of those criteria are met.
The age-old practice of using anti-seize compounds as wheel system lubricants has never been approved or endorsed by a wheel, hub or fastener manufacturer. It hails back to the day of stud-piloted or Budd wheel systems when the inner and outer cap nuts were constantly “freezing” together during the removal process. Someone figured out that by coating the threads with high temperature anti-seize compounds the fasteners would come apart. The inherent rust inhibiting properties appeared to be an added bonus.
But nobody asked the question: “Why do inner and outer cap nuts freeze together in the first place?” The answers are typically things like worn or damaged threads, excessive corrosion or uneven torque between the fasteners. The use of anti-seize compounds on stud-piloted wheels keeps bad fasteners in service longer. When they freeze together, it's usually a sign that the threads are either worn or about to wear out. Anti-seize makes sure they come apart so they're put back on the vehicle. Brilliant.
If that isn't enough, stud-piloted wheel systems require a dry torque, so the use of a lubricant like anti-seize will result in more pounds of clamping force per foot-pound of torque. Among the results are accelerated rates of stud fatigue and ball seat wear. So anti-seize decreases the service life of both the stud and the wheel.
Since the people who use anti-seize are creatures of habit, many of them adapted it to the newer hub-piloted wheels for the same reasons. While they could be considered correct from the lubrication standpoint, the torque setting for hub-piloted wheels is oiled.
Once again, none of the wheel, hub, or fastener manufacturers even mentions anti-seize, and all of them agree the only acceptable lubricant is 30-weight oil, with 2-3 drops applied to the threads on the end of the studs and 2-3 drops between the flange and the nut body.
Substituting the 2-3 drops of 30-weight oil with a couple globs of anti-seize is going to reduce the amount of clamping force per foot-pound of torque. When any variation of the word “reduction” is used in association with the key component of wheel retention, everyone owning or operating a truck should pay special attention. Anti-seize on hub-piloted fasteners leads to wheel-offs and the evidence remains on the wheel end in question following the accident. It's a slam-dunk for the plaintiff's attorney.
Take a walk through your maintenance shop and look for cans of anti-seize. They represent an unnecessary expense no matter what the tire guy says. Then take a walk around your yard and look for evidence of metallic (usually silver or copper) residue around the studs and nuts. If you can see it, so can the lawyer. Whoever is responsible for installing your wheels must understand the anti-seize myth is costing them money and exposing everyone to unnecessary risk.