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On the Road

Why truck tires wear differently across long-haul routes

David Sickels is the Senior Editor of Fleet Equipment. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

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If you’ve seen an episode of this show before, there’s a good chance it was about maintaining your tires. Now, maybe, at one time or another one of these videos has brought about the inspiration to go have a look at your tires yourself. And, maybe, particularly in long-haul applications, you’ve noticed tires are wearing differently across the truck.

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Click here to watch more of FE’s On the Road video series.

Here is a transcript of the video:

So, tires are wearing differently across the truck. The reason might be because you’re using the wrong tire for that truck’s application, or maybe you have the right tire, just in the wrong position. It could also be because of ignored maintenance. Believe it or not, in some cases, it could even be by design.

Tire position has a lot to do with it. As you take a walk around the truck, you’ll likely find tires in each position have worn differently. That’s because, generally speaking, the more open a tire’s tread design, the quicker it will wear.

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A tire designed for traction with an open ‘block type’ design will normally wear at a quicker pace per 32nd-inch than a straight ribbed tire that is most often used on a steer or trailer axle. Also, a drive axle tire has, more often than not, a deeper tread depth than a steer or trailer axle tire. As the blocks wear down, the miles per 32nd-inch of rubber will increase as the blocks become more stable at lower tread depths.”

Different styles of tread patterns also wear differently. Take a look at the difference between closed-shoulder and open-shoulder drive tires for a good example of this.

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Open-shoulder drive tires are typically used in a more local service or on/off-road service because of the traction required for those operations. However, if this type of pattern is used on a long-haul tractor, it may have a propensity for irregular shoulder wear. This is also seen in the difference between regional steer tires with a solid shoulder and long-haul steer tires with a decoupling rib in the shoulder. Because tires in long haul operations wear very slowly, there is more opportunity for irregular wear to happen. The decoupling rib allows the shoulder ribs to wear more evenly by keeping the tire’s footprint flat on the ground.

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And, as you know from those videos I brought up at the beginning, sometimes the cause of an odd wear pattern has a much simpler answer. If you spot improper tire wear, check the tire pressure.

While everyone probably knows that tire inflation is important, many people still underestimate how large this effect can be. Tire inflation will change the tread pattern in the contact patch of the tire. In other words, a tire that is not properly inflated is also not making proper contact with the road, reducing its ability to perform as it was designed. It’s best to keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure. This will optimize tire performance, as well as provide the best mileage and fuel efficiency.

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