Longer tire life thanks to smarter management
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Longer tire life thanks to smarter management

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Understanding and choosing tires with outstanding technology and fitting them to the fleet’s needs won’t amount to much if the tires aren’t also properly maintained. Every fleet should have a formal tire maintenance program to assure its tires are cared for and managed smartly. This will provide the most service to the fleet and provide you with the most benefit from the technology with which the tires were designed.

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Four unique suggestions were offered by Guy Walenda, director-engineering, commercial products and technologies, Bridgestone Commercial Solutions, to help truck operators extend tire life.

• Proactively manage your fleet’s tire pressures. Consider asking your tire service provider (tire dealer or truck dealer) to send its mobile service truck every other Saturday to your yard for a few hours to check the tire inflation on all your trucks, trailers and trailers.

• Mount all of your tires (steer, drive, trailer) with the same proven procedures, fully aware that it’s possible your servicing dealer delivers complete mounted units. Follow the process: clean the wheel, inspect the wheel for any irregularities and lubricate the tire bead surface and the wheel bead surface with non-petroleum lubricant.

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• Adhere to basic wheel maintenance at new tire installation—change the valve stem, valve grommet, the valve core and the valve cap (consider using a flow-thru double-check valve cap). Assemble with the proper torque, since a simple crack in the grommet can impact the tire’s life.

• Dual tires or drive-trailer sets must be the same diameter, within ¼-in. of each other to assure even wear. If more than ¼-in., the taller tire will carry the greatest load. Also for optimum wear, inflation pressures should be the same within 5 lbs of air pressure.

From a spokesman at Goodyear Tire and Rubber, consider total axle alignment. Drive axles must be inspected to ensure that they are perpendicular to the chassis and for tandem axles, parallel to each other. If drive axles are out of alignment, drivers must constantly turn the steer tires right and left to keep the truck moving in a straight line. This results in steer tire wear. Similarly, out-of-alignment trailer axles can cause tire wear as well.

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To make the most of a total axle realignment, inspections for worn kingpins, wheel bearings and steering components should be conducted. Tolerances for each component must be in spec. Excessive movement in any component can lead to irregular tire wear. Shock absorbers should be inspected, too

Pre-trip inspections are vital, according to Paul Crehan, director of product marketing, Michelin Truck Tires. A solid pre-trip inspection is critical to ensuring the best truck performance while staying safe.

The advantages of this inspection: Improved highway safety, reducing downtime; increasing productivity; and getting on-time load delivery.
In general, drivers should perform the following checks prior to any trip: Maintain proper tire pressure; monitor tread depths; watch for irregular wear; and inspect suspension components.

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According to Michelin, a tire that is 20% below the optimal air pressure is considered a flat tire. A tire that is run under these conditions will experience casing fatigue that could lead to a catastrophic failure or a zipper rupture. If the tire has been run 20% underinflated, it should be removed and scrapped. Under CSA guidelines, a tire operating with less than 50% of the maximum pressure (sidewall) is an out-of-service condition. A tire that is run underinflated will wear rapidly and come out of service more quickly.

Rotation of directional tires is another important care area. Make sure they are mounted correctly to avoid rapid wear. Duals need to be mounted with the correct spacing between the tires. The tires should be of the same design, size, type and tread depth. Particularly important to steer tires is radial runout. Before removing the tire and wheel assembly from the vehicle, check for runout if there has been any ride complaints. Bent wheels, improper mounting and flat-spotting can be the root cause.

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