The fact is this: Wide-base single tires go a long way in helping fleets increase their fuel efficiency and cost savings measures. These types of tires have been used in fleet service and transport for a long, long time, and have seen many millions of miles rolled out on their backs.
Still, despite all of the benefits of wide-single tires, many a fleet technician has a sleepless night over potential maintenance costs. So despite the cost savings and sustainability gains, what is it that those fleet maintenance managers know that we don’t?
The Full Story
Here’s what you need to know about wide-base singles. First, they tend to run a little better and wear longer. It’s also best to use them in the drive position, as opposed to the trailer position. Finally, keep in mind that wide-base singles are more sensitive to things like misalignments, improper inflation or bad camber settings.
It’s likely that early adopter fleets went through plenty of trial-and-error before they got wide-base singles down pat. One such example of something you would only learn through using wide-single tires is that axle width affects how much shoulder wear you’ll experience. Consider that you may need to offset the wheels to make up for a narrower axle.
Conversely, if you move to a wide-track axle and utilize zero-offset wheels, you will get a far longer life out of your wide-singles. Always remember, however, that if you want to put duals back on to the same axle, it is going to be far too wide.
It’s important to consider the intended application when making buying decisions. You’ll also want to consider the residual value that you’ll get from the tires. Is it really wise to try and hedge your bet with a narrower axle just so you can sell it later when you may wind up with more tire wear over time?
While it is true that full width axles are better for wide-single tires, you may be limiting your potential buyer’s choice in the event that they don’t want to go with wide-singles themselves.
What to Know When Using Wide-Singles
From a maintenance perspective, there are a couple things to keep in mind when using wide-singles. First, make sure to check the tire pressure every time the truck comes into the shop. Also ensure you do a bearing end-play check. As for balancing and alignment, you can do that in between larger intervals.
More importantly, remember that it takes some time to get your adjustments right with wide-single tires. In the end, proper wheel bearing adjustment can make a big difference in the inner shoulder wear of your tires.
Just make sure to keep a regular alignment program in place. And when you are planning out your alignment schedule, remember that you need to do more than just a traditional front-end alignment. Your drive axles will need to be regularly aligned as well.
Always Monitor for Inflation
One of the most important considerations when using wide-singles is in the area of inflation. There’s plenty of evidence showing that wide-single tires are more susceptible to inflation pressure issues than other tire types.
Unless you are running with a light load, your wide-singles need only be inflated to around 80-85 psi. You aren’t accomplishing anything by over-inflating to 100 psi or more. Doing so only makes your tires at risk for blowouts and road hazards. Consider that wide-single blowouts can take the entire wheel with them and you’ll want to make sure you are doing everything right on the maintenance side.
In the end, wide-single tires are considered, for the most part, niche products. Still, depending on your application, they may be just right for your fleet. Make sure to do your research before making your next tire purchase.