If you keep detailed fleet maintenance records, you probably already know that tire replacement costs often eat up a significant portion of your maintenance budget. Routine maintenance and replacement can be costly, but flat tires are even worse. Minimizing the likelihood of catastrophic failures while maximizing tire lifetime can help to reduce your overall operating costs.
The best way to accomplish both of these goals is with a strict tire maintenance program. These three tips will help ensure your fleet's tires last as long as possible without leaving your drivers stranded on the side of the road.
1. Use Accurate Pressure Gauges
Modern tires are more sophisticated and longer-lasting than ever before, but pressure remains the most critical aspect of tire maintenance. Underinflated and overinflated tires can both present problems for your drivers and vehicles. These tires will wear more quickly, and they're more likely to suffer from catastrophic failures as they age.
Maintaining proper tire pressure starts with obtaining accurate measurements. Make sure that drivers in your fleet have access to reliable and precise pressure gauges. Additionally, ensure your drivers know how and when to use these tools. Any fleet tire maintenance program starts with routine pressure checks, so don't ignore this critical aspect of keeping your tires maintained.
2. Perform Cold Checks
Tire pressure can vary significantly between warm and cold conditions, especially on heavy commercial vehicles. Underinflated tires will have a detrimental impact on fuel economy, which can substantially impact your fleet's bottom line. Checking tires when warm can give the false impression of adequate tire pressure, leading to excess wear and reduced fuel economy.
Maintenance personnel and drivers should always check tire pressure when cold to avoid this situation. When possible, perform tire pressure checks only when a vehicle has been off the roads for several hours. Performing cold checks ensures that tire temperature won't prevent you from keeping your truck's tires at the proper pressure levels.
3. Understand Rotation Patterns
Commercial vehicle rotation patterns are more complex than personal cars. For semi-tractors, it's essential to differentiate between the steer (front axle) and drive (typically the rear two axles) wheels. Steer wheels usually need to be rotated from one side to the other, while you can rotate drive wheels front to back or using a cross-pattern.
Rotating drive tires is particularly crucial since these generally don't wear evenly on a tractor. Instead, the wheelbase can impact which axle receives the most wear. By rotating tires, you can distribute this wear more evenly, ensuring that the tires last longer.
Use the above tire maintenance tips for reducing costs in your business.