Tire maintenance is a key component of an effective driver and fleet safety program.
It allows carriers to avoid vehicle performance issues on the road, protect their equipment, and maximize profitability through higher uptime and fuel savings. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy, under-inflated tires can reduce a vehicle’s gas mileage by as much as 0.3 percent for every one pound per square inch.
Despite this, certain carriers still lack an effective tire maintenance strategy. They would rather rely on visual checks than pre-trip inspections that accurately measure pertinent data, such as tire pressure and tread depth.
If you want a more robust tire maintenance plan for your fleet, here is a simple checklist to help you get started:
1. Ensure proper tire pressure
Fleets tend to see more tire blowouts in the summer than at any other time of the year.
During the winter, tires often run under-inflated because cold temperatures contract air as molecules are forced closer together. This accelerates the wear on the tire’s “shoulders” or the area at the tire’s edge between the tread and sidewall.
Once temperatures pick up in the summer, air molecules expand and consequently over-inflate tires. Coupled with the worn shoulders, the sudden climb in tire pressure increases the likelihood of blowouts.
This is why tire pressure should be, at the very least, checked on a weekly basis—not monthly like some truckers do.
“It’s important to remain vigilant when monitoring tire pressure,” said Goodyear senior product marketing manager Evan Perrow. “Both over-inflation and under-inflation can change a tire’s footprint, making it susceptible to premature, irregular wear.”
2. Maintain proper wheel alignment
Misaligned wheels can result in a range of problems that negatively impact truck performance and tire longevity.
A “positive camber,” for example, occurs when the top half of a tire tilts outward. This accelerates the wear on the tire’s outer shoulder. Following are some of the symptoms of severely misaligned tires that need immediate attention:
- Off-center steering wheel when driving straight
- Noticeable vibration on the steering wheel
- Irregular tread and shoulder wear
- Vehicle pulls to one direction when the driver lets go of the steering wheel
3. Practice tire rotation
Tire rotation is the practice of repositioning tires to balance tire wear.
For commercial trucks, the rear tires usually wear out faster because these vehicles pivot on the front drive axle when making turns. This puts more friction and increases the wear on the rear tires.
Manufacturers sometimes include a recommended scheme for tire rotation in the owner’s manual. An “X-pattern” can be followed to balance the wear over each tire’s treads and shoulders.
To do the X-pattern rotation scheme, move the right front tire to the left-rear position and the left front tire to the right-rear position.
As for frequency, tiremaker Michelin recommends that tires be rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Measure the tread depth of both tire sets to be sure.
4. Monitor your drivers’ habits
Aggressive and risky driving practices—for example, excessive hard braking, hard acceleration, and hard cornering—may result in excessive friction heat which, in turn, causes tire treads to wear out faster.
To solve this problem, carriers can use an ELD solution that proactively monitors drivers and flags aggressive driving practices. After identifying the drivers who need coaching, carriers can then initiate driver training programs to rectify the issue.
For instance, the KeepTruckin ELD solution has a driver scorecards feature that ranks all drivers according to their safety scores. This allows fleet managers to quickly identify drivers with poor driving habits that lead to the quick wear and tear of tires.
Effective tire maintenance can provide carriers with substantial cost savings in the long run. With the tips and strategies mentioned above, you should be able to draft an effective tire maintenance strategy.
It is also recommended to use the KeepTruckin ELD solution to monitor fault codes and catch maintenance issues early. When the KeepTruckin ELD detects an issue, it is instantly displayed on the KeepTruckin Dashboard, and fleet managers receive a fault code notification. This allows you to stay on top of vehicle health and prolong the life of your tires.
If you need more information about the KeepTruckin ELD solution, call at 855-434-ELOG or email firstname.lastname@example.org.