What Are the Spikes on Big Truck Tires Used For?

Published on May 28, 2024 at 3:12 pm in Truck Accidents.

What are the spikes on big truck tires used for

Driving down the interstate or on the streets of Jackson, you may see semi-trucks with shiny metal spikes sticking out of the center of their wheels. It draws your attention and makes you wonder why the truck driver put them there.

Tire spikes, also called wheel covers or lug nut covers, are not uncommon on big trucks, and you may have seen them on passenger vehicles as well. But what are the spikes on big truck tires used for?

In this post, we’ll discuss the purpose of lug nut covers on semi-trucks and the dangers or restrictions of their use, if any.

The Purpose of Truck Tire Spikes

So, you’ve seen those spikes on large truck tires, but what purpose do they serve? Are they practical, or intended to be scary, or are they purely for decoration? The answer to all of those is “yes.”

Here are the three main reasons truck drivers use tire spikes:


One of the main reasons truck drivers attach spikes to their tires is to protect the lug nuts. The design and shape of the spikes help to keep bits of dirt, ice, and other road debris or substances from building up on the spike or the lug nut it protects, thus lengthening the life of heavily used truck tires. Trucks can travel thousands of miles on one trip alone, and if the tires last longer, then the truck won’t have as frequent maintenance or potential shipping delays.


Another main reason truck drivers use tire spikes is to warn other road users to give them space. They are meant to grab your attention and intimidate drivers to prevent cars or motorcycles from driving too close to large trucks in truck blind spots. Big rigs have enormous blind spots, and if you can’t see the side mirror of a truck, chances are that the driver can’t see you. So, those spikes keep you and others out of dangerous blind spots. It’s safer for everyone out on the road.


You may think that some of the lug nut covers look cool, and that’s intentional, as well. Not only do tire spikes serve a useful purpose, but they’re shiny and bright and when the truck is moving it looks cool. If a driver is attaching a practical part to their truck, why not make it fun at the same time?

Are Lug Nut Covers Allowed?

Now that we’ve discussed the reasons why truck drivers decide to put spikes on the lug nuts of their tires, it’s important to understand the potential dangers and legality of their use.

Dangers of Tire Spikes

The spikes you see coming off of truck lug nuts are not dangerous. They may look like they would scratch your car or hit something else while the truck is driving, however, those spikes are generally made out of plastic or aluminum alloy or similar material that is not very strong. Your car door might have minor scratches before the spikes broke and it would be highly unlikely that the spikes would penetrate through any part of your car.

Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are the ones who should be most aware of tire spikes as these individuals don’t have the protection afforded by a vehicle. But, if they’re doing their job, the spikes should deter anyone from getting too close to a large truck’s tires and therefore minimize any potential dangers.

Regulations for Lug Nut Covers

When you see large trucks on the road, you’re likely already intimidated. These vehicles are huge and weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, and if they have spikes on the side of their tires, it may cause other drivers to be fearful. Of course, that begs the question, are these pointy lug nut covers even allowed to be used?

Most states in the US don’t have much on the topic of “wheel projections,” except in the cases of making a vehicle too wide for standard road lanes. Hawai`i has prohibited all “projections on the face of wheels” since 2016, and the state of Washington prohibits their use only if they incorporate winged projections or pose a hazard to pedestrians or cyclists. Other states, such as Texas and Florida, limit the length of tire spikes to prevent the width of vehicles from exceeding a certain amount, 8ft in Texas and 8.5ft in Florida.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has no stated regulation on lug nut covers or tire spikes on large trucks. However, federal regulation 393.75 states that no motor vehicle should be operated if tires have any tread or sidewall separation, are cut or have exposed belt material, and more. Additionally, federal regulation 393.205 specifically states that wheels and rims should not be cracked or broken, stud or bolt holes should not be elongated, and nuts or bolts should not be missing or loose.

Lug nut covers such as tire spikes help to protect truck tires and wheels from damage and generally don’t break any road laws or regulations. They keep trucks safer on the road, which in turn, keeps other road users safe, as well.

If you’ve been in an accident with a big rig and have questions or concerns regarding the use of tire spikes on the truck that hit you, our office at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC can help. Our initial conversation is always free.

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