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Since tires are black, round and look alike, they must all perform alike, right? Wrong. Contractors who buy on price and don’t take a close look at the differences in performance among different brands may be giving up an opportunity to improve their operation, and quite possibly lower their costs per mile.

Five Steps Toward a Better Tire Program

 

Checking tread depth on a commercial tire. Tires should be rotated, particularly in slow wear-rate situations, for more miles to removal. If you own one or more trailers, it’s recommended that you remove steer tires at 6/32nds to 8/32nds and run them on your trailer axles down to 4/32nds to achieve optimum uniform wear prior to retreading or casing credit.
Photos provided by Goodyear Commercial Tire

With pressures to reduce maintenance expenditures, particularly in a down economy, it’s easy to understand how contractors could base their tire buying decisions on purchase price rather than long-term cost. After all, since tires are black, round and look alike, they must all perform alike, right?


Wrong, said Tim Miller, marketing and communications manager for Goodyear Commercial Tire. Contractors who buy on price and don’t take a close look at the differences in performance among different brands may be giving up an opportunity to improve their operation, and quite possibly lower their costs per mile, Miller said.


“Don’t just think about how much money you spend initially on tires; also consider how much you spend during the tire’s entire lifecycle,” he said. “Imagine the possibility of getting more service life out of your tires and saving money over the long term by spending a little extra at the beginning. Plus, you can get tires with features that make them better suited to the rigors of [your] operation.”


Miller offers five steps fleet managers can take that could save them money and help to avoid tire-related delays.


 


Step 1: Buy tires from someone who cares


“If you don’t know where to start or just find yourself overwhelmed, find a local tire dealer who is as concerned about keeping you in business as he is about keeping himself in business,” said Miller. Tires of the same brand might be available to you from several dealers in your area. Most fleets depend on their dealer to keep them up-to-date on new tire developments that might be better than the ones currently being purchased.


“A good tire dealer will help you with your entire tire program,” Miller added. “This may include wheel refinishing, mounted tire programs and tire management information systems. Most fleets find these services much less expensive when provided by tire professionals than when done in-house.”


 


Step 2: Find the right tool for the job


One of the biggest mistakes contractors can make is choosing tires that are simply the wrong tool for the job, Miller said.


“You wouldn’t lay an inadequate 3/4-inch main line for a drip irrigation system if you know it needs a maximum flow of 11 gallons of water per minute,” he added. “So, why would you equip your work truck with economy tires that don’t offer good traction in wet and muddy conditions, or handle fast wear and tread scrubbing from frequent turns?”


Make a list of the trucks you have, and think of some of the work those trucks do and the kind of environment in which they typically run. Then, with the help of a good local tire dealer, evaluate various brands and types of tires to see what works best. If you have multiple units in your fleet, you may even want to run different brands of tires on different units to see which ones work best for your operation.


 


 

A Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) tire-failure study showed that under-inflation caused 90 percent of all tire failures. Under-inflation causes tires to flex more as they travel and generate rubber-damaging heat inside the tires. A tire under-inflated by 20 percent loses 30 percent of its life. When inflation drops 40 percent below the recommended level, the tire lasts only half as long.Step 3: Remember cheaper is not always better


“Someone once said that two things you should never scrimp on are shoes and mattresses,” Miller said. “I would add tires to that list.”


You may pay extra at the beginning, but start with 16-inch steel-belted and steel body ply tires instead of cheaper steel-belted and fabric body ply tires, he added. You’ll get commercial-grade tires with premium casings that can be retreaded more frequently or can offer greater value. This can lower your cost-per-mile. Plus, premium tires often carry stronger warranties and are more readily available.


High-tech, low-rolling-resistant tread; high-scrub-resistant compounds; high-tensile steel body plies and belts; plus the latest mold shapes help make premium tires an excellent choice. Goodyear has even included a built-in sealant in some tires, which can significantly reduce downtime and service expenses due to tire punctures.


 


Step 4: Consider retreading your tires


According to Miller, a retreaded tire costs about one-third the price of a new tire. With new developments and manufacturing techniques, retreaders can offer retreaded tires that match the tread designs of new tires and provide like-new performance and appearance characteristics. Even if retreading is not for you, a steel-belted/steel-ply casing has “value” in the marketplace. You can sell used casings to your dealer or another company.


 


Step 5: Take good care of your tires


“Inflation pressure, inflation pressure, inflation pressure,” said Miller. “It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of routinely checking tire pressures to getting more miles out of your tires. Establish a tire maintenance program for your operation. A good tire dealer can help you.”


Consider getting routine all-axle alignments for work trucks since tires that run straight down the road wear best, he added. Also, maintain suspension and steering system components. Worn shocks, bearings, and tie rod ends can create faster tire wear.


 


Article provided by Goodyear Commercial Tire.

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