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Tracking truck tire inflation can pay dividends

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Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

According to the Technology & Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Association (ATA), a constant 20% underinflation in a commercial vehicle tire increases tread wear by 25% and reduces the tire lifetime by 30%. This results in significant increase in tire costs for a fleet.

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It also increases fuel costs. Underinflation of just 10 PSI reduces fuel economy by 1%. Tire-related costs are the single largest maintenance expense item for commercial vehicle fleet operations, and improper tire inflation increases tire-related costs by approximately $600 to $800 annually, per tractor-trailer combination.

“Tires typically lose up to 2% of their air pressure every month. A tire that is underinflated by as little as 2% can exhibit irregular wear and other tire issues,” explained Michelle Reinhart, head of business development for digital solutions with Commercial Vehicle Tires the Americas. “Worn valve stems and temperature changes can increase the amount of pressure loss, as can nail holes and other tire damage from demanding applications such as waste hauling.

“Mismatches between identical tires can be caused by differences in air pressure,” Reinhart continued, “causing irregular wear in a ‘tall tire, short tire’ pattern. Variances as small as 5 PSI can cause the tires to be mismatched. This type of mismatch can occur even when the tire make, model, tread depth, and diameter are identical. A difference in air pressure between two dual position tires is easy to fix, but frequently goes unnoticed until it causes visible tire wear.”

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