Major temperature changes wreak havoc on tires. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, there’s a correlating decrease of 2-3 psi in truck tires. Improperly inflated tires can reduce fuel efficiency, affect truck performance, or even lead to a costly and dangerous blowout. Preventing expensive inefficiencies and accidents due to tire issues requires proper maintenance. Old school methods of checking tire tread and pressure often involve using a quarter and a baseball bat. If you are still relying on 25 cents to inspect tire tread or the thump of a bat to check pressure, you’re exposing yourself to the following avoidable risks:
- Tire blowouts in the spring. Warm weather in the spring and summer is the primary factor contributing to a tire blowout. However, how truckers take care of their tires during the winter plays a critical role in reducing this risk. Tires expand and contract over the winter due to freezing and defrosting condensation in the valves. Air escapes as the valves expand, which reduces tire pressure. The longer trucks run on underinflated tires, the more wear and tear they inflict on them. The rubber begins to break down, making it weak and prone to ripping and stripping the tread when encountering heat after months of cold.
- Uneven wear on the tread. When pressed for time, truck drivers may pull out a quarter to quickly gauge their tire tread. The rule of thumb is that if the tread overlaps the president’s head, the tire is serviceable. This exceptionally crude method can cause problems with the truck’s performance and contributes to the likelihood of a blowout. If a tire does need replacing, tuckers should make sure that the tires all have an even amount of tread to prevent recurrent tread issues.
- Hidden costs of operating on chronically underinflated tires. Underinflated tires cost owner operators and fleets a considerable amount of money over time. The vehicle is less fuel-efficient and more difficult to handle. The tires erode much faster and will require replacement sooner than if they maintained adequate tire pressure.
Around half of all roadside emergencies are the result of tire problems, many of which are avoidable. Investing in tire depth gauges to ensure the tires have an acceptable amount of tread is much more reliable than using a quarter. It can also provide a clearer picture of how much tread a tire has left before it needs replacing.
Many newer model trucks come equipped with tire inflation systems that provide real-time data on the truck’s tire inflation. While these systems may be too expensive to install in older trucks, tire pressure gauges are affordable, and more accurate than traditional methods.
With so many variables affecting how a truck’s tires perform and wear over time, owner operators and fleets need reliable solutions to maintain tire integrity. To learn more about trucking safety, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.