Proven tire maintenance practices go a long way toward extending tread life on fleet vehicles. Phil Mosier, Cooper Tire’s manager of commercial tire development, points out that maintaining proper inflation pressures is the best thing a shop manager can focus on to ensure long-lasting and even-wearing tires.
“A tire that is underinflated or overinflated won’t have the optimum footprint or contact patch, which can lead to irregular and/or fast wear,” Mosier says. “Inflation pressures should be checked weekly, or whenever the truck returns to the shop, and if possible the driver should perform daily pressure checks during pre- or post-trip inspections.
“Even tractors and trailers equipped with automatic tire inflation systems should be checked monthly to ensure that the system is working properly,” Mosier adds. “Fleets and service providers shouldn’t just assume the systems are working properly.”
Rob Williams, senior director of TBR Sales at Hankook Tire, notes that pre-trip tire inspections—which include pressure checks—and a visual inspection of tires for damage or unusual wear patterns, are very important. “Ensure that you address any fluctuations of more than 10 PSI by removing the tire and wheel assembly for a thorough examination,” he says, “including putting the tire in a dunk tank to check for any possible leaks.”
“The magic wand of extended tire life is regular air pressure checks—and not just when tires are on vehicles,” says John Grimm, tire sales engineer at Falken Tire. “Make that process a part of inspections and stress the importance of daily routine pressure checks. That’s especially critical on the inside tire on dual drive assemblies.
“If there is more than a five PSI difference between tires in those applications, one tire will be carrying more weight and be susceptible to increased wear,” Grimm adds. “Technicians can make that easier by lining up wheel holes when tires are fitted on vehicles.”
Promoting even tread wear
Hankook’s Williams also points out that properly balanced tires and wheels will help avoid excessive bouncing that can create uneven wear patterns. “Also make sure to match up tires with similar tread depths on the same axle to promote even tread wear and rotate tires as needed,” he says. “In addition, a regular alignment schedule and checks of front-end suspension components, or anytime an unusual wear pattern is noticed, are also recommended.”
Vehicle alignment helps promote long tire and tread life, says Mosier at Cooper Tire. “Alignment checks should be performed at least every 80,000 to 100,000 miles or 12 to 18 months, whichever comes first,” he advises. “Alignment helps ensure that mechanical components are in good operating condition and within the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.
“An alignment check is also recommended at the first sign of any irregular tire wear,” Mosier adds. “At the same time, tire rotation can increase tread life. Rotating the tires when they are 50% worn or when irregular wear sets in is a good practice that can help get the most from your tires.”
All of the manufacturers also note that many commercial tire dealers provide inspection services for fleets, including recordkeeping of results and corrections. Additionally, tire manufacturers offer a range of valuable technical information that helps improve overall tire life, as well as training for technicians and drivers on what to look for during inspections to avoid costly tire related roadside breakdowns.