Why Do Semi Trucks Have Spikes on Wheels?

Not too long ago I was driving down the highway and began noticing that the semi trucks that I was passing had spikes protruding from their wheels. Knowing these spikes had to have a purpose other than resembling something straight out of a Mad Max film, I decided to do some research to find out exactly what they are used for. Beets.

Why do semi trucks have spikes on wheels, you ask?

  1. They act as a protective shield for the lug nuts that secure the wheels of the semi-truck.
  2. They act as a crash deterrent for other drivers on the road that may veer too close to a semi-truck.
  3. They act as a cosmetic feature that adds character and style to a truck driver’s main focal point of income: their semi-truck.

At first glance, the functionality of these spikes may only be for show for others on the road. However, these spikes may save the life of not only the semi truck driver, but your life as well. Let’s dive a little deeper into how there’s definitely more to these spikes than meets the eye.

What are the Purposes of Spiked Semi Truck Wheels?

According to the Department of Transportation, semi truck drivers can be on the road up to 14 hours in a work day and up to 70 hours in a work week. That is a lot of time spent driving through the various harsh elements you may be exposed to while on the road.

Protection from the Elements

While there are many facets of truck driving safety, one you may not realize exists is maintaining the lug nuts that secure the wheels to the semi truck. Many truck drivers utilize spikes to act as covers that protect the lug nuts from wear and tear caused by dirt and debris from the roads, and rust from rain or snow. Without proper protection, these lug nuts may come loose and threaten the stability and fidelity of the wheels themselves. Dwight Shrute.

Accident Deterrent

But why utilize spikes? Wouldn’t a simple cover that is more flush to the actual hubcap of the wheel do the trick?

Yes, it would. However, the elongated design of the spike can actually serve a purpose. One of the more common reasons accidents with semi trucks occur is due to other motorists “driving in the “No-Zones” — the areas behind and beside a commercial truck where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility.”

Many truck drivers decide to use a spike because it acts as a deterrent for other drivers on the road to maintain a safe distance from the semi truck. The spikes themselves are made of plastic or a thin metal that will immediately break off if another vehicle makes contact with them.

In the moment contact occurs, the sound that is produced can act as a warning signal for other drivers that they are dangerously close to the semi truck and could give adequate time to readjust and get in a safer position.

Cosmetic Purpose

If you do a quick google image search for spiked semi truck wheels, you’ll see all sorts of styles that are pretty intimidating. If you are still asking why they have to use spikes and not some other design, I have to ask you this: why not? We’ve already gone over the practical uses of these spikes, but isn’t a cosmetic purpose important as well?

Like I referenced earlier, truck drivers are on the road for up to 14 hours a day. The truck is not only their personal workspace, but also a home away from home. Is there really a difference between an office worker wanting to decorate their workspace and a truck driver wanting to decorate their truck?

It’s the little things that gets us all through the work day, and if wicked looking spikes on a truck driver’s tires does that for them, who are we to judge?

Can Regular Motorists Utilize Spikes on Their Wheels?

If you enjoy the aesthetics that spiked wheels create for semi trucks, I have good news for you! These decorative lug nut covers aren’t just available for large commercial vehicles like semi trucks. You can purchase these spikes for your personal vehicle from a variety of different sources.

I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of some examples from Amazon to give you an idea of the kind of variety and pricing you may encounter when shopping for spikes.

  • Spike Lug Nuts 24 Piece Installation Kit
    • $49.99.
    • The installation kit includes 24 lug nuts and 24 spikes.
    • Includes a 3/4” and 13/16” socket key for easy installation.
    • Chrome colored and made from cold forged carbon steel.

When deciding to purchase decorative spikes for your personal vehicle, always remember to purchase the correct size so they fit securely and check with your local and state government regarding any possible regulations.

What Does the Law Say About Spiked Wheels?

Current Laws

After doing some research, I surprisingly found little information regarding specific laws that regulate the use of these spikes on vehicles. Here’s what I found:

Hawaii passed legislation back in 2015 that does impose regulations and defines a dangerous wheel as “any wheel, wheel cover, hubcap, lug nut cover or cap, prong, or any ornamentation affixed to any of the aforementioned items that extends at least four inches beyond the portion of the wheel rim that extends furthest away from the vehicle and that may cause injury or property damage by minimal contact with a person or object.”

The State of Washington’s Revised Code states that “[no] vehicle shall be equipped with wheel nuts, hub caps, or wheel discs extending outside the body of the vehicle when viewed from directly above which: [incorporate] winged projections; or


a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists.”

Distraction, Intimidation, Brand Image

The biggest factor regarding the legality of spikes on semi trucks and vehicles in general is the length of the actual spikes, not just their use in general. This obvious because if a spike was outrageously long, it would pose a serious and unnecessary hazard to everyone else on the road. However, there have been other concerns regarding their use.

Some people have argued that semi trucks utilizing spikes on their wheels is dangerous purely because they can pose as a distraction for surrounding motorists. Noticing these spikes going at high speeds and having a knee-jerk reaction to the possibility that you are too close may cause accidents in of itself because your vision has been diverted from the road ahead of you.

Some trucking companies have actually banned the use of decorative wheel spikes because they fear they may warp the public’s opinion of their company as being aggressive and intimidating. Dunder Mifflin.

Spiked Wheels: Good or Bad?

Although these spikes can come off as intimidating and aggressive, they do have legitimate uses other than being cosmetic. They offer protection from the elements and can act as a possible crash deterrent. There are plenty of other cosmetic choices motorists can legally make that send out an intimidating or aggressive message that don’t involve spikes, so should spikes be treated any differently?

Some people may say yes and some may say no. Regardless, if you are interested in installing spikes onto your vehicle’s wheels, it is always important to check with your local and state government regarding their use. No matter the reason for installing spikes, there are legitimate safety concerns involving them, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Dane Eyerly

Dane is a lifelong lover of semi-trucks and the trucking industry. He loves learning about semi-trucks, careers in the trucking industry, and the lifestyle of truckers. Dane also enjoys attending the Mid-America Trucking Show and Great American Trucking Show in Louisville, KY and his home town Dallas, TX. Click here to learn more about Dane.

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