The Impact of Load Distribution on Commercial Tire Performance

Improper weight distribution can negatively impact commercial vehicle stability, steering, braking and acceleration. It also increases the rate of tire wear, requiring you to replace or retread them more frequently. Add unnecessary strain on mechanical components, and you could face costly repairs. Learn about preventative measures for managing load distribution.

Why Proper Weight Distribution Matters

Cargo weight affects how your commercial vehicle handles during operation. A heavy load makes sudden braking and evasive maneuvers more difficult. Ensuring the weight is properly distributed reduces axle fatigue and enhances vehicle stability.

Overloading also puts pressure on your tires, causing more tread to touch the road and increasing the rate of wear. That strains commercial tire sidewalls, which can result in a flat if your tires are underinflated.

How Tire Inflation Impacts Load Distribution and Tire Wear

Underinflated tires can’t handle the weight of your vehicle properly and can cause uneven distribution. Exceeding a tire’s recommended load capacity can also lead to accelerated damage.

Weight is distributed evenly across the tire surface when it’s inflated correctly. But, underinflated tires sag, exposing more tread to the road and increasing heat buildup and rolling resistance. Overinflated tires have less contact with the road and put more pressure on a smaller surface.

Common Mistakes in Load Distribution

Overloading: Exceeding your vehicle’s recommended weight limits can result in poor handling and performance. You may face increased braking distances and brake failure.

High center of gravity: Be mindful of stacking your cargo too high. That can elevate your vehicle’s center of gravity, leading to rollovers during turns or while driving in windy conditions.

Improper positioning: Loading cargo unevenly front to back or side to side alters weight distribution and may strain your axles and tires.

Loose items: Unsecure items can shift during transit and damage other cargo.

Tips for Optimizing Load Distribution

  • Review and adhere to manufacturer specifications and legal weight limits before loading your vehicle to ensure compliance.
  • Verify the maximum load capacity for your tires AND axles.
  • Check that your suspension and coupling ratings are appropriate for the load weight.
  • Conduct a pre-trip inspection to ensure your cargo is balanced and secure.
  • Place heavier cargo under lighter items to maintain a lower center of gravity.
  • Put about 60% of the cargo weight by the front axle to decrease swaying.  
  • Double-check ropes, tie-downs and other security devices.
  • Plan your route ahead of time to account for potential hazards, obstructions and construction.
  • Practice safe driving habits by maintaining safe following distances, adhering to speed limits and using caution on uneven surfaces.
  • Monitor, record and make appropriate modifications to overloading incidents.

Schedule Fleet Maintenance at Bauer Built

Let us do the heavy lifting so you can focus on the road ahead. We offer comprehensive inspections and maintenance to ensure your commercial fleet complies with Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Compliance, Safety, Accountability regulations.

Categories: Bauer Built Blog