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Keep Tire ROI Rollin’

By on July 1, 2016

3 Tips help optimize your investment

Whether you’re an owner-operator or a fleet driver, tires represent a significant part of your operating costs. You can help optimize your “tire returns” by regularly engaging in three key maintenance practices:

1. Air Pressure Monitoring

Maintaining correct inflation pressures is the single most important maintenance practice that a driver can employ to positively impact tire wear, casing life and overall tire performance.
Both over-inflation and under-inflation can change a tire’s footprint, making it susceptible to irregular wear and loss of traction.

Although over-inflation can create a handful of issues, including a harsh ride, under-inflation can trigger several serious problems that impact time and money. Since the air inside the tire carries the truck’s load, under-inflation causes the tire to flex more as it rolls down the highway, which results in internal heat buildup.

Under-inflation also hurts fuel economy, since it forces truck engines to work harder.
Tires are designed to run at specific pressures based on the load they are carrying. TA Truck Service Centers can help you determine the correct pressure for the tires that your truck is running. Following load and inflation information provided on tire manufacturer websites such as GoodyearTruckTires.com is also very useful.

Recommendation: Check your inflation pressure levels at least once a week.

2. Vehicle Alignment

Keeping a truck properly aligned may seem like an expensive proposition, but it’s an investment that can pay big dividends when it comes to achieving longer tire life. Over time, a regular alignment program can boost tire life and reduce the occurrence of irregular tread wear.
When thinking about alignment, keep in mind that a traditional frontend alignment isn’t always enough for long-haul trucks. Drive axles must be brought into alignment, too—making sure they are perpendicular to the chassis, and in the case of tandem axles, parallel to each other.

Truck misalignment can also impact fuel economy. If any of the wheels on an 18-wheel tractor/trailer are not in alignment, the total drag on the vehicle increases. When the tractor and trailer are not tracking parallel to the direction of travel, aerodynamic drag will increase.

Misalignment is not a condition that corrects itself. An improperly aligned truck requires expert care.
Recommendation: Have your alignment checked at least twice per year; spring and fall are good times.

3. Visual/Tactile Inspections

Regular visual and tactile inspections of your truck’s tires can provide a lot of useful information about their condition.

Things to check for include unusual wear patterns like feathering and cupping. It’s really important to make immediate note when the tread across each tire starts to show unusual wear patterns. If detected early enough, they can be countered or corrected to help extend tire life. A tactile examination while looking for cuts, cracks, blisters and bulges can also yield useful information.

Recommendation: In addition to your daily walk-around inspections, conduct a thorough visual inspection of all tires at least once every week, and check tread depth frequently.

When you consider the thousands of dollars invested in 18 truck tires, applying these three simple tips can lower your operating costs and boost your tire ROI in real, measurable ways.

About the Author
A 20-year commercial trucking industry veteran, Brian Buckham is general manager of commercial truck tire marketing for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

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