There is a host of different materials for steer wheels available.
Polyurethane and Ultra-Polyurethane treads are the most common wheel treads you'll encounter on a pallet jack.
What's best for your pallet jack depends on where and how you use it.
Poly Tread on Nylon Hub
These have a chemical bond that secures the poly tread to a steel core (or hub). This option is ideal for display floors, carpeting, and warehouses. They mark floors the least while rolling easily and quietly. Under really heavy loads (2,500lb +), if left to sit for more than 8 hours, there is a possibility of the wheels flat-spotting.
Ultra-Poly Tread on Aluminum hub
Longer lasting and they roll more easily than regular poly, also a chemical bond on a steel core. Ultra-poly is very hard and won't shatter like nylon if too cold (i.e. in and out of a freezer). They are also non-marking with the possibility of flat-spotting, as mentioned above.
Solid Nylon Wheel
This is a harder material that is best for cold storage applications. It is also the material of choice for use in environments that may cause rust or corrosion like poultry processing, and working with seafood. It can also be the best choice for refrigerated transport trucks that have grated floors. Lastly, they can be a good choice if the pallet truck is taken outside on the rough pavement. However these are more likely than poly to mark floors, so be mindful when using inside a showroom or a hotel lobby, for example.
Solid Steel Wheel
When all else fails you may need solid steel wheels. These are best for use on factory floors where there may be metal shavings or hard debris on the floor, and where noise is not an issue. What they lack in their ability for use in a sneak attack (they’re pretty loud) they make up for in sheer durability. These are also a good choice if you need to work outside on rough asphalt. But they can damage nice floors, so avoid use on floors you want to remain "pretty".
One Wheel or Two?
Now that you've got an idea of which type of wheel is best for your specific uses you are faced with another sometimes tough decision. One wheel or two?
First, most pallet jacks have two steer wheels. They are located on the main body of the jack, attached to the hydraulic unit, and therefore the handle.
Unless a pallet jack is brand new, we always recommend replacing both steer wheels at the same time. There is a legitimate benefit:
Steer wheels wear down and get shorter the longer you have used them. Steer wheels (like pallet jack load wheels, or the tires on your car) do not act independently but are a portion of a larger machine. Even a small difference in diameter causes stress on the mating (aka connected) parts which then causes issues down the line.
You find all variation wheels for most pallet jack brands here.
Because we so strongly advocate changing both at the same time we created wheel kits to get you everything you need, even the load wheels, and they are priced so that the hardware comes for free.
Here is an example:
Complete wheel kit for Crown PTH 50
Here are some more links you may find handy as you venture down the road of replacing your steer wheels:
How do I find out the make and model of my pallet jack?
Video: How to turn a pallet over
Step-by-step video on how to replace your steer wheels
Step-by-step video on how to replace your load wheels
And more videos
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