Tire wear has always been a major concern for truckers, and rightfully so. New tires can get expensive and if old tires blowout, there can be considerable downtime on the side of the road waiting for a replacement. Many factors can be responsible for, or at least contribute to, irregular tread wear. While the wear pattern can often point in the general direction of the problem, it can sometimes take considerable detective work to track down and correct the real source of unusual tread wear.
Train drivers in proper driving practices
Some drivers, especially inexperienced ones, abuse their vehicles and tires with rough gear shifting, spinning wheels on wet surfaces, taking corners too quickly and sharply, and by rapidly accelerating or braking heavily. Not only do these practices abuse the tires, they create unnecessary wear and tear on the truck.
Other drivers like to drive fast and those increased speeds can take a toll on tread wear too. For every 1 mph increase over 55 mph, there is a 1 percent reduction in tread life. Keeping speeds slower will also save you fuel, minimize driver fatigue, and create less strain on other parts and components.
Keep up to date on repairs and maintenance
Suspension and shock maintenance is particularly essential for long tread life and uniform wear. Inadequate care can lead to uncontrolled jounce and rebound vibrations which are terrible for tires and ride quality. Empty backhauls will really highlight the problem as lightly loaded trucks aren’t as forgiving, particularly on rutted or deteriorating highways. Other areas of concern include worn wheel bearings, excessive axle end play, sloppy ball joints, and “dead” springs.
One of the easiest things you can do to maximize tread life is to check the air pressures of tires often, especially on dual wheel assemblies. Always adjust pressure levels to the weight of the load for maximum efficiency. If wear is noticed mostly on the edges, increase pressure. If the center of the tire is mostly worn, you can decrease pressure.
If possible and convenient, schedule loads for easier routes
One type of route that is harder on tires is one that includes steep grades and winding or twisting roads. These conditions lead to increased tire slip, abrasion, and wear. For example, carriers operating in the mountains can experience 50 percent faster tread wear than their flat land competitors.
Road surface textures can also greatly affect treadwear. One example is a rough or sharp surface with embedded shells, these surfaces are more abrasive and tend to generate faster wear rates than polished concrete and smooth asphalt. Studies show that highly abrasive roads can create a 100 percent worn tread situation in as little as 1,000 miles. Meanwhile, the same tires on polished or worn surfaces would only be 25 percent worn after 2,000 miles. Even fresh concrete is harsh on tires with treadwear rates being 70 percent faster on one-month-old pavement when compared to 2-year-old concrete.
Even regional climates can make a big difference on how quickly tires wear. Trucks that often travel over wet pavement can see 30 percent less tread wear than trucks that run only on dry surfaces. Temperature is also a big factor, when the temperature increases, so does tread wear. Fleets typically experience better tread wear in the fall and winter months, when temperatures are cooler and roads are usually wetter.
By keeping these tips in mind, you will be able to reduce the amount of wear that is placed on your tires and extend the driving time you will get from them. Practicing a few simple habits and keeping a good maintenance routine will greatly help to reduce the need for continually having your tires changed.