9 Commercial Tire Maintenance Tricks
Tire condition is one of the most important factors of fleet performance, but commercial tire maintenance is often overlooked. Checking your tires regularly will help you reduce costly downtime.
#1 Keep Your Tires Inflated to the Recommended Pressure
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire failures cause about 33,000 accidents each year, and underinflation is a leading cause of tire failure. So, ensure your tire pressure is within the manufacturer’s specifications before hitting the road.
You should also conduct a pre- and post-trip tire inspection to check for signs of damage caused by underinflation, including:
- Uneven tread wear
- Sagging sidewalls
- Cracks on the upper sidewall or running from the shoulder to the bead
- Decreased fuel economy
Automatic inflation systems will keep your tires at the proper pressure. If tire inflation falls below the manufacturer’s recommended level, the system will pump the necessary amount of air to refill your tires quickly.
#2 Rotate the Tires Every 6,000 Miles
Rotating your commercial tires regularly will prevent uneven tread wear and improve the longevity of your tires. Steer tires must be rotated from side to side to ensure even wear. Drive tires should be rotated from the front axle to the rear axle on the opposite side of your vehicle.
#3 Clean Tires Regularly with Mild Detergent and Water
Exposure to ozone, road salt, brake dust, tar and dirt degrades the rubber in commercial tires.
Here are some cleaning tips to remember:
- Rinse: Spray your tires with water to wash off harmful grime.
- Scrub: Dish soap effectively eliminates oily residue. Rinse the tire and keep scrubbing back and forth until the water runs clear.
- Condition: To prevent drying and cracking, completely coat the sidewall with your preferred tire conditioner.
#4 Check for Bumps, Bulges and Other Damage
Look for any visible damage, including tears, cracks, blisters, bubbling and bulges during your inspection. Cracks and tears can expose the interior of a commercial tire, compromising its structural integrity and increasing the risk of a blowout. Bulges and bumps may occur after hitting a pothole, curb or debris, so take time to check your tires after a long haul.
#5 Make Sure Wheel Alignment is Correct
Misaligned tires are more prone to accelerated wear and tear. If your steering wheel is pulling in either direction or has a slight vibration, your tires may be out of alignment. Ensuring every truck in your fleet receives a complete three-axle wheel alignment once or twice a year will prevent tire dragging and improve fuel economy.
#6 Replace Tires When They Reach the End of Their Service Life
Low tread depth reduces traction, so you’ll likely have to brake harder, resulting in longer stopping distances and heat buildup in your brakes and tires. Tires with low tread also lack height, so the tread block is closer to the road and more susceptible to punctures.
Remember the required tread depth for commercial tires:
- Drive and trailer tires: No less than 2/32” tread
- Steer tires: No less than 4/32” tread
#7 Invest in a Tire Inflator and Compressor
A portable air compressor is a useful tool on the road. It’s great for emergencies when you’re not near a service center. You can quickly refill your problem tire and get back on the road or to a mechanic.
#8 Keep Spare Tires on Hand in Case of an Emergency
Having a spare tire ready to go will save you time and money in the event of a blowout or flat. And if you’re prepared to fix the problem yourself, you won’t need to wait for roadside assistance. Remember to check your spare tire’s pressure and condition regularly.
#9 Schedule Regular Maintenance
Stick to a defined tire service schedule. Tire techs can spot and address minor issues before they become costly problems. They can also provide valuable insight on improving fleet performance.Bauer Built Blog