Tire tips, not just for National Tire Safety Week
National Tire Safety Week is May 28-June 3 which corresponds with Memorial Day weekend and the traditional beginning of summer, when the busy summer driving season starts. Tire safety and maintenance is just as important for drivers of trucks and fleets as it is for consumers. For truck drivers who put many more miles on their tires on all types of roads and weather conditions, tire maintenance and safety are extremely important. Maintaining the tires on your truck is a daily occurrence, but something that doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated.
Maintaining proper inflation pressure in tires is the single most important factor in extending the life of any tire and in helping to keep you safe on the road. Both over and under inflation have negative effects on the tire by changing its footprint, which is the area contacting the road. Underinflation can cause excessive heat buildup and can potentially cause internal structural damage. Over inflation can make tires more vulnerable to cutting, punctures or damage from sudden impacts. When the tire is not contacting the road as the tire design intended, the tread area will also wear irregularly and therefore more rapidly. Correct inflation pressure is determined by the load carried for each tire.
Routinely rotating tires directly contributes to longer tire life, especially in areas of irregular tread wear. This also lets you or your service provider see the condition of your tires and make repairs or replace worn or damaged tires if necessary. Roadmaster recommends rotating tires when they are 50 percent worn, or even earlier if they show signs of irregular wear.
While rotating tires can help even out irregular wear, you still need to investigate what is causing the issue. Irregular wear conditions will lead to premature tire removals and can cause vibration and ride disturbances.
When should you replace the tires on your truck? Department of Transportation regulations say that the tread depth for any tire on the front wheels of a bus, truck or truck-tractor must be at least 4/32nds of an inch when measured at any point on a major tread groove. All other tires on the vehicle must have a tread depth of at least 2/32nds of an inch when measured at any point on a major tread groove. If any measurements are at or below these depth requirements in any part of the tread, the tire should be removed from service immediately.
Steer and drive position tires can be pulled early to help maintain traction and they can be rotated back to the trailer to run out the remaining tread life. If a truck tends to experience penetrations from nails or other road debris, then it’s probably best to pull the tires early and retread them to help preserve the casing integrity.
There are a number of things drivers and fleets can set up to ensure that their tire maintenance is easy to manage. Implement a comprehensive maintenance program that includes regular inspections to check for proper tire pressure, tread depth, and irregular wear. Properly maintained, serviced and inflated tires last longer which helps your bottom line. Inspect tires prior to each trip to ensure the tractor and trailer tires are in good condition.
Consider using fleet management software to track tire wear. This can help identify any abnormal wear situations and facilitate timely removal of worn tires. Tire pressure monitoring systems on trucks and continuous tire inflation systems on trailers will simplify and improve tire pressure maintenance. Improved tire pressure maintenance will help improve fuel economy and tire wear