June 29, 2022
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Commercial vehicles have different needs than personal cars. Tire maintenance is critical to avoiding blowouts and flats as well as maximizing fuel economy. Long-haul truck drivers should inspect their trailer tires at least weekly and report any issues to their fleet maintenance team. Tire inspections should include checking inflation pressure, measuring tread depth, and checking for worn valve stems.
The standard in the trucking industry is to replace semi truck tires every three to six years. But your fleet manager should use the tire’s mileage to determine your truck tire‘s life. Mileage covered isn’t the only consideration. Truck tires that are used more on back country driving, construction sites, or quarries will likely need to be replaced sooner than those used mainly on paved highways.
Fleet managers will use inspection reports from drivers, mileage information, and manufacturer recommendations to determine when to replace your truck’s tires. If you notice an issue with your tires, report it immediately to avoid an expensive roadside tow or repair.
This is probably the most common challenge for truckers and fleets. If your tires are not properly inflated, your tires will wear down more quickly and unevenly. Tires typically lose about 2% of their air pressure every month, so it’s important to regularly check your tire pressure. Temperature changes, damage, and worn valve stems can all contribute to underinflation.
When you have trailer tires in dual positions it is critical that they are not mismatched. Mismatched tires can increase premature wear and maintenance costs. The easiest way to identify mismatched tires is to look at the tread depth. Even small differences in tread depth can cause issues. Using tires from different manufacturers or pairing new tires with old tires is a common cause of this issue. And while a tire mismatch may not be a big problem on a personal vehicle, on commercial vehicles that are routinely hauling heavy loads for long distances, a tire mismatch can cause expensive problems.
Uneven tread wear can be a sign that your truck has other mechanical issues. The alignment could be off, tires could be underinflated or overinflated, or tire maintenance is overdue. Irregular tire wear drastically increases the chances of a blowout. It’s important that you look at the tread wear patterns on your tires whenever you’re conducting a pre-trip inspection. It only takes a few minutes to use a tread gauge to make sure your tires are wearing evenly, and reporting any possible problems can prevent headaches down the road.
Inside tire wear can be caused by overloading, misalignment, underinflated tires, faulty shocks, or even loose wheel bearings. This can be avoided by regularly checking air pressure, verifying load weight before hauling, and replacing worn parts as needed. Severe inside tire wear may require retreading, but it can sometimes be corrected with a tire rotation.
While skidding is more likely to occur in the winter due to icy road conditions, driving behaviors such as over-steering, over-braking, over-accelerating or just plain driving too fast are other common causes.