Truck tire maintenance: all things being equal

A look at the service maintenance of tires for dual wheels and tandem axles.

Some folks just like to have things lined up and in order. Dishes in a cupboard are stacked largest to smallest, just as vehicles parked in the yard are neatly aligned by size. You get the idea.

For some of us, uniformity is as natural as tying our shoes—we do it without even thinking. Making things equal, or as equal as possible, comes as second nature. But, is this always the right way?

Let’s take a look at the service maintenance of tires for dual wheels and tandem axles. No, this is not about starting with a fresh set of brand new tires. However, even with new tires, it is a good idea to inspect them to ensure there is a match between tires and compliance with the manufacturer’s standards.

When it comes to tires that have been in service for some time, wheel alignment, weight distribution, and/or road conditions may have worn the tires to the point where they are no longer the same diameter. That means that when it is time to replace individual tires or rotate the tires because of wear, the tires no longer match. That can have repercussions for the vehicle.

First, before remounting tires and wheels to the truck, it is always important to check service information specific to the vehicle to determine how much variation in diameter or circumference is allowed. With dual wheels, the larger tire diameter will bear more of the load, creating a potential overload that could result in overheating and premature wear.

Another potential problem to look out for in a tandem drive axle application is when all the smaller tires are grouped onto one axle. If one set of tires on an axle is of a different diameter than the other set, the differences cause the axles to work against one another because they are turning at different speeds. This mismatch in axle ratio could cause the axles to overheat and fail.

When it comes to tires, it is important to maintain the diameter or circumference standards recommended for the vehicle. It is not a matter of a nice, uniform look, but “all things being equal” definitely will achieve the best performance and extend the life of your truck’s tires and axles.

Additional tips for repair and maintenance of Class 4-8 trucks may be found in the Mitchell 1 ShopConnection Truck blog: mitchell1.com/shopconnection/category/truck/.

Jake Schell is the associate product manager for Mitchell 1’s Commercial Vehicle Group. Mitchell 1 Shop Connection Truck. Click here to read more of Jake’s columns.