If there’s one thankless job truck equipment has, it’s the tires. They are the ones suffering the greatest amount of wear and tear. They are the pieces of equipment that must be replaced the most.
A lot of factors go into overall tire cost and performance. We’ve discussed them in great length; from low-rolling-resistance to retreads to their interaction with the road. It’s one thing to choose the right tire, but do you know how to calculate the long term cost of your tire of choice?
Two Modes of Thought
Most fleet managers fall squarely on either side of a common argument. On one side many thing that figuring out the cost associated with tire life cycles is a waste of time and money. This camp believes that as long as you can get the ratio close enough, you’re good.
On the other side of the fence is the belief that since tires are part of the equipment, their cost needs to be factored into the overall organizational cost structure. Could it be possible that both sides are right?
If you ask either party, they’ll at least come to one similar conclusion. As long as you have the right practices in place, the cost will end up evening out, regardless of whether or not you are completing a thorough analysis.
When evaluating whether measuring cost matters, it’s important to note that we aren’t talking about individual tires here. In the grand scheme of things, the cycle of an individual tire matters very little. What matters is what the vehicle’s overall tire cost per mile is.
A Tire’s New Lives
Tire cost per mile can actually be easily averaged out over the life of a tire. Keep in mind, it will also vary depending on how the tire is used and the frequency at which it has been repositioned and retreaded.
As an average, a tire used in line haul service should be expected to last around 250,000 miles. This is generally the time that the decision would be made to retread them or not. If so, they should be able to run another 200,000 miles.
It’s also important to consider the casing. If you are retreading the tire, the casing is likely to be over five years old. To get even longer life you can cap the original, then put it in a trailer position where it will run a limited number of miles per year.
A few years later you’ll have reached a point where the casing is simply too old to be capped again, so you can either sell it or scrap it. During this time, how you maintain the tire can make or break the lifetime cost equation.
When thinking about a tire, imagine you pay an upfront cost for it. Then you pay for a couple of retreads. Remember, we’re talking about a total lifetime of almost a decade.
Keeping the tires in good shape saves you money over the long term. On the other side, some fleets managers feel that the time and effort that goes into tracking and maintaining tires is just not worth the cost by itself, as we mentioned before. Indeed, many tires will be damaged in ways that are outside of their control, so why bother?
These guys only track the first life of the tire, from new to the first reposition or recap. Whichever method of tracking you are using, it’s really just about how you do your accounting.
Indeed, some operations – such as those only running during daylight hours – can’t stop to fix a flat as quickly as others. In this situation, knowing exactly what you are getting out of your tire is more important than just buying a new one.
So should the lowest tire cost per mile be your ultimate objective? Not necessarily. Feel free to keep the rubber costs down, but don’t lose focus on proper maintenance. Above all, always keep your tires in mind.