Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tire Life = Money

One of the main reasons you should keep your tires properly inflated besides highway safety, is money, plain and simple. Tires aren’t cheap: In fact, they’re the second or third largest expense for most truck operators, right behind fuel and labor. So how you manage your tires can have a big impact on your company’s bottom line. 

Here’s a list of good overall tire-care tips:
  • Use tire air equalizers to spot under-inflation
  • Have tire pressure checked regularly
  • Maintain proper inflation in all tires including the spare
  • Pull tires when they reach a tread depth of 6/32nds  
  • Dual tires must be the same size (since manufacturers' recommendations are different, check their manuals for tire service data)
  • Align axles when mounting tires
  • Have an alignment check done as part of your yearly scheduled maintenance, or as soon as you feel a pull in the steering while driving

I put air in the tire, now where did it go?
Cupped Tire Wear
Proper tire inflation is critical because it’s the air inside the tire that carries the weight of a vehicle. It also absorbs shock and keeps the tire in its proper shape so it may perform as designed. Inflation pressures also influence handling, traction, braking, load carrying capability and fuel economy.

Most tire manufacturers agree that a tire is considered “under-inflated” when the air pressure is at 80% or less than the recommended level. For every 10 degree drop or increase in temperature your tires can loose or gain up to 3 psi.

Tires flex when they roll which bends the tire’s rubber and steel cords used within the rubber on the sidewall of the tire to provide additional strength and operating characteristics. This flexing generates heat and adds to the tire wear resulting from the friction created between the road’s surface and the tread as the tire rolls along. Heat is a tire’s worst enemy. 

If a tire isn’t properly inflated, it doesn’t roll as smoothly or as easily as it was designed to. As a result, it will have an uneven, irregular “footprint” – that portion that contacts the road surface. This inconsistent shape leads to increased wear, reduced traction and performance, plus handling and ride problems.

The concentrated flexing caused by under-inflation leads to premature wear, and fatigue and failure of the steel cords. There is a direct correlation between how much a tire is under-inflated and how much faster it wears out. 

Over-inflated Tire
When overinflated, however, excessive wear occurs at the center of the tread because it will bear the majority of the vehicle’s weight. Along with making for a harsher ride, overinflated tires don’t ‘absorb’ the impact of road hazards, such as potholes, as well and increase the risk of sustaining a puncture or impact damage.

So before you go down the road, or up in the air, check your tires and their pressure. It’s for your safety and will benefit you and/or your company in the end.

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