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Maintaining Your Tires: An Essential Guide

Tire care need not be time-consuming. While monitoring pressure stands central, vigilant technicians can catch minor issues before they grow into larger problems. And given today’s truck tire prices, savings on maintenance directly translate to profit. Fleet managers and truck drivers alike know this.

The minimal investment in better tire care can lead to extensive savings. How? Through increased tire longevity, reduced emergency roadside services, minimized downtime, and improved safety metrics.

In a recent event, during a three-day span, nearly 60,000 inspections were conducted. Out of these, 22.8% of commercial vehicles met the out-of-service criteria, 18.5% of which were due to tire discrepancies. If not for these inspections, many of these vehicles would have been stranded or faced worse scenarios.

Busting the Myth of Maintenance-Free Tires

No truck part is truly maintenance-free, and tires are no exception. While they don’t need constant attention, supervising their inflation is crucial. A tire’s tread reveals its health. It’s essential to understand the signs and intervene before it’s too late.

Recent data reveals that tires maintained at the recommended inflation can last up to 20% longer than those not adequately inflated. And the benefits don’t stop there.

After deploying a specific inflation system, a noted fleet owner reported a staggering 95% decrease in downtime. Other clients also reported fuel economy improvements between 1-3% and an enhancement of 10-20% in tire longevity. This data underscores the importance of actively overseeing tire pressure for better lifespan and fuel efficiency.

Understanding Inflation Pressure

It’s recommended to consult the tire manufacturer’s charts to determine the optimal pressure based on the load. Air pressure can differ based on the tire’s position and load, especially the steer tires, which often need pressures exceeding 100 psi.

Changes in seasons and temperatures can alter tire pressure. When it gets hotter, tire pressure increases and vice-versa. A natural monthly loss of about 1-3 psi is also expected. These may seem like small things, but they can lead to big problems if not properly monitored.

Automated tire inflation and monitoring systems aid in swift inspections. But truck drivers must understand the significance of correct inflation and the art of visual assessment. They should be encouraged to inspect frequently and report abnormalities swiftly.

Analyzing Scrap Tires

Your discarded tires can offer insights into your maintenance approach. Tires don’t just fail; there’s always a reason. Trucking companies that don’t look into that reason risk repeating it.

Consistent reviews of discarded tires can reveal why some issues crop up prematurely. An in-depth examination of damaged tires can avert future challenges and extend tire lifespan. Do you pay attention to the state of your tires?

Wear indicators and other tire conditions can direct attention to the root of the problem. If bead damages or run-flats are frequent, reviewing maintenance records and mounting practices could help identify the root causes.

Vehicle Alignment Matters

Proper alignment of a vehicle is crucial as it impacts tire wear. Misalignment might cause uneven tire wear, resulting in reduced tire lifespan.

For commercial trucks, alignment issues vary based on their operational routes. Those used for long distances might display wear differently than vehicles used for short, frequent trips. However, irregular wear remains a concern, albeit at varied rates.

Misalignment exhibits specific patterns on tires. Addressing these issues promptly can save the tire. Rotation is also advisable for each tire position.

Embracing Tire Management Technology

Adopting tire management technology can streamline maintenance. From systems that monitor tire pressure and temperature to devices that automatically inspect tire condition, the options are varied. Fortunately, there’s plenty of options to choose from.

Collaborating with trusted tire management partners can empower fleet managers to focus more on business operations, providing insights to optimize maintenance strategies. No matter who you’re talking to out in the yard, they’ll thank you.

Given the high costs of replacements and potential downtime, proactive tire maintenance is indispensable for fleets.

Heed TPMS Warnings

Tire pressure management systems have become commonplace. However, over-reliance on these systems can be detrimental. Reliance on alerts, rather than regular checks, can cause oversight.

Sometimes, the air supply to these systems might be shut off, especially post maintenance, leading to issues. Drivers, the first line of observation, can get frustrated if issues persist or if they’re sidelined waiting for assistance.

Responding to TPMS alerts immediately is crucial to avoid major complications. Such systems should be viewed as complements to maintenance, not substitutes. You cannot run a trucking company on sensors and alerts alone.

For more insights on tire maintenance, click here.

Making Sense of the Alerts

In an era of digitized fleets and advanced tire management platforms, tire pressure management systems (TPMS) have gained significant traction. These systems are almost ubiquitous in modern trucks. However, the reliance on this technology has somewhat reduced the traditional importance of regular physical inspections.

Observations from industry insiders indicate a trend. Fleets are now primarily waiting for digital alerts rather than conducting routine yard checks. This passive approach, though seemingly efficient, might be a problematic shift. The reliance on alerts and ignoring physical inspections might lead to overlooking evident issues that the system hasn’t flagged yet.

Integrated Tire Inflation Systems Take the Stage

Moreover, the integration of automatic tire inflation systems (ATIS) can sometimes contribute to a deceptive perception of safety. While the ATIS can manage small leaks, it doesn’t eliminate the risk that a tire possesses. A puncture, even if tiny, is a potential entry point for water which can damage integral tire components.

It’s a shared observation that post-servicing, there’s an occasional oversight where tire technicians neglect to reactivate the air supply to the ATIS. This results in drivers, who are typically the first to notice low-pressure alerts, feeling disoriented and frustrated. Frustration mounts especially if they can’t address the problem due to tight schedules or an unwillingness to spend unpaid hours waiting for a repair. Over time, drivers might ignore these alerts or even deactivate the system.

For a fleet manager, understanding the balance between technological alerts and physical inspections is crucial. Solely relying on one method might jeopardize tire health and, by extension, the vehicle’s efficiency and safety.

Supplementary Tools, Not Replacements

The introduction of devices like TPMS and ATIS in the tire maintenance world was revolutionary. It promised and delivered increased efficiency, improved monitoring, and better maintenance schedules. Yet, as with all tools, understanding their role is pivotal.

These systems, though powerful, are primarily supplements to traditional tire maintenance practices. Treating them as outright replacements can be a grave error. An alert from your TPMS is a cue for immediate action. If a low-pressure warning surfaces, addressing it promptly prevents potential inflation-related blowouts or other tire damage.

The phrase “good tire maintenance” has evolved with technology but hasn’t deviated from its core principle: ensuring the vehicle’s tires are in the best possible condition for the road. Devices aid this process; they don’t replace it. A holistic approach, where technology meets regular physical inspections, promises not only the longevity of tires but also safety and improved operational efficiency.

The Human Element in Tire Maintenance

Despite the forward march of technology, there’s something irreplaceable about the human touch, especially when it comes to tire maintenance. The tangible and visual checks, far from being redundant, offer insights that machines sometimes miss.

To elaborate, consider the experience a driver brings to the table. A driver who’s been on the road for years can often sense anomalies in the drive, ones that might not trigger a digital alert. Maybe it’s a slight vibration or a subtle change in the handling of the vehicle. These nuances, though seemingly trivial, can be early indicators of a tire issue or misalignment.

Additionally, visual inspections offer a holistic assessment. A technician can spot issues like sidewall damage, bulging, or foreign objects lodged in the tire – problems that might escape digital monitoring. The technician can also ensure that the tire is correctly seated on the rim or look for signs of aging, such as cracking or dry rot.

These manual checks complement digital systems by covering potential blind spots. Thus, the human element acts as a safety net, ensuring that no issue, no matter how minor, slips through the cracks.

Training: The Backbone of Effective Tire Management

Training is pivotal in maximizing the benefits of any system, and tire maintenance is no exception. It’s not just about understanding how to use the TPMS or ATIS; it’s about comprehending the broader landscape of tire health.

Firstly, drivers should be educated on the significance of tire maintenance, not just for vehicle safety but also for operational efficiency and fuel economy. A well-maintained tire can drastically reduce fuel consumption, and over time, this translates to considerable savings.

Next, training sessions should be practical. Drivers should be taught the art of visual tire inspection, identifying potential problems, and understanding the next steps. When should a tire be rotated? What’s the optimal pressure for different loads? What are the signs of tread wear? Addressing these questions empowers the drivers, making them active participants in the maintenance process.

Invest in Your Training Program

Training isn’t a one-time endeavor. As technology advances and new methodologies emerge, refresher courses are essential. Regular training sessions keep all team members, from drivers to technicians, on the same page and update them with the latest best practices.

While technology plays a crucial role in modern tire management, human involvement remains irreplaceable. By investing in regular training and emphasizing the value of manual inspections, fleets can ensure that they’re leveraging the best of both worlds. This harmonized approach doesn’t just enhance tire longevity; it also ensures safer roads and more efficient operations.

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