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Dig into tire details during maintenance

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Michael Ingram was the managing editor of Fleet Equipment's sister publication Tire Review.

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The importance of scrap tire analysis cannot be overlooked, and oftentimes an analysis will provide a valuable but easily implemented fix in your tire maintenance practices to help improve tire life.

There are several resources on scrap tire analysis that fleets should consult. TMC produces both the Tire Conditions Analysis Guide and the TMC Radial Conditions Analysis Guide to help fleets understand why tires are wearing irregularly. Kevin Rohlwing, the Tire Industry Association’s senior vice president of training, also recommends his association’s Commercial Tire Service (CTS) program to give your roster of technicians a leg up when it comes to tire maintenance.

“Technicians don’t typically perform scrap tire analysis, so we stick to the basics of demounting, mounting, inflating, installing and removing the tires and wheels,” Rohlwing says. “Our program teaches them what to look for when inspecting a tire, or a wheel, before it is mounted or installed. Without that training, the chances of returning a tire to service that should be removed are going to be higher.”

“The most common reason for tires being out of service is an under-inflation condition, which can be the result of poor maintenance programs, improper mounting and lack of bead area prep with aluminum wheels,” says Jamie Untersinger, business development manager for Vehicle Inspection Systems Inc. “When replacing a tire, it is highly recommended that a new valve stem is always replaced along with wheel inspection and bead mounting be cleaned.”

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Evan Perrow, senior product marketing manager for Goodyear, also sees irregular wear patterns from under-inflation as a major area of concern.

“Tires are engineered to run at specific pressure levels based on the load they are carrying,” Perrow says. “Drivers should check inflation pressure levels at least once a week, using a calibrated tire gauge. Maintaining a record of tire inflation checks and adjustments can prove beneficial as well.”

Untersinger recommends inspecting the crown area and sidewall to determine the cause of the failure. Not only can it help identify failure points, but it also can help determine whether this is the best tire for the current usage and areas for driver improvement.

“While having a good tire program is key, it all begins at the surface where the tire is mounted,” Untersinger says. “Fleets are increasingly aware of rim and wheel maintenance, therefore, wheel polishing and rim wheel reconditioning services are becoming part of the norm in the wheel end maintenance programs.”

Walter J. Weller, senior vice president of the China Manufacturers Alliance (CMA), says that it’s important to understand the difference in tread wear between steer, drive and trailer tires:

“As an example, 16/32nds on the inside groove and 10/32nds on the outside groove indicate the vehicle needs an alignment, and not just a steer axle alignment, but a full vehicle alignment,” he explains. “If the rear axles are not aligned properly and parallel the front axle, it would appear to be out of alignment, but if you only checked the steer axle, you may get a misleading reading indicating that the steer tires are in alignment. In reality, if the drive axles are not aligned, they would push the steer tires down the road, causing misalignment wear.”

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Ultimately, consistent maintenance and data records are the key to tire maintenance success.

“Keep track of the data and review it regularly,” Weller says. “The different methods of data manipulation will become obvious once you have enough data to make good decisions and implement sound countermeasures.”

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