As one of the two biggest non-labor expenses that trucking fleets have, tires require careful maintenance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program further underscores the importance of good tire maintenance practices.
“Tire maintenance is top of mind for both fleets and drivers,” says Brian Buckham, marketing manager, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. Prior to the advent of CSA in 2010, tire violations were the responsibility of carriers. “Drivers are much more interested because tire violations now affect them, too.”
Fleets can stay on top of maintenance in a number of areas.
- Tire tread depth. Is there adequate tread depth for the wheel position? Many fleets maintain tread depth minimums that vary depending on wheel position. Using a a tread gauge to measure tread depths is recommended.
- Tire pressure maintenance. Like tread depth inspection, tire pressure checks are a key part of any pre-trip inspection. “Check to see if the tire’s inflation pressure matches the pressure that is required to handle the load,” says Buckham. “Use a calibrated pressure gauge to obtain an accurate reading. Check the calibration periodically for accuracy.”
- Visual tire inspections. Carefully look for damage to the tire’s tread and sidewall area, paying particular attention to exposed belt or ply material. These items will trigger an official inspection. Take the time to look at the inside dual tire and between duals for rocks and other debris that can cause trouble. Also look for uneven wear. If uneven wear patterns are present, a truck alignment might be in order.
- Wheel inspections. Look for cracked wheels, as well as bolt holes that may have become elongated due to loose lug nuts.
“It requires teamwork to help ensure that a truck or trailer is road-worthy,” Buckham explains, “With the fleet maintenance manager performing maintenance at the terminal and the driver performing walk-around inspections to check inflation pressure, tread depth and other items.”
There are a number of third-party programs that can help fleets avoid tire-related CSA penalties. Goodyear, for instance, does this through its FleetHQ solutions program, including the Trailer-Readiness program and Tire Trac.
Through Trailer-Readiness, Goodyear commercial tire dealer technicians check tire tread depth, tire pressure, trailer lights, wheel seals, air valves, air lines and other components, according to Jose Martinez, brand manager, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. Data is made available through a secure, online portal and also through Goodyear-FleetHQ’s Tire Trac tire performance management program.
“Trailer-Readiness is organized around items the Department of Transportation would check, providing indicators of tire issues that might arise during a roadside inspection,” according to Martinez. It can augment daily pre-trip inspections and enhanced preventive maintenance practices.”
The Goodyear-FleetHQ Tire Trac program provides fleets with an up-to-date analysis of their “tire readiness,” Martinez continues. “We have built an extensive tire performance database through Tire Trac, and the information we have collected – and continue to collect – can be used to develop advanced reports that can demonstrate how tire and maintenance programs are performing within customers’ fleets.”
This gives fleet managers the ability to identify problem areas.
“Tires are sometimes overlooked when fleets and drivers are in a hurry to make deliveries and feel that they can cut back on inspections in the interest of saving time,” says Martinez. “Keeping tabs on the condition of your tires and wheels are critical to helping avoid CSA violations and penalties."