How much do you have invested in your tires? If you operate three-axle dumps, it may total anywhere from $2,500 for eight recap drive tires and two new steers, to almost $6,000 for 10 new premium tires. If you pull a trailer moving heavy equipment, you can add $4,000 or more. Add to that the effect that tires have on fuel economy, and tires can consume a significant portion of your fleet maintenance budget. You need to protect that investment.
Choose the right tread
When replacing tires, be sure you get the optimum tread for your needs. A shallow rib tread can reduce fuel use by at least 3% compared to a deep lug drive tire, but it won’t provide the traction you may need for on/off road operations. Work with your dealer to get the best balance of structure, compound, and tread pattern.
Watch for signs of unusual wear
When tires show uneven wear, compare them to the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) Recommended Practice RP 219C - Radial Tire Wear Conditions and Causes. This guide analyzes causes of wear patterns and recommends corrective actions. Another useful document is RP 216C - Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide.
Stay in alignment
Wheels out of alignment can reduce fuel economy by 3% or more, and dramatically shorten tire life, according to the TMC.
When properly aligned relative to the chassis and to each axle, tires run straight with minimal wear. When axles are not perpendicular to the chassis, the resulting thrust angles cause tires to scrub across the pavement. With just an 1/8-inch misalignment, a tire rolling 500 revolutions per mile will be dragged sideways more than 5 feet each mile. That scrub contributes to uneven wear. Even worse, it takes added energy to wear the tire, lowering mpg.
Align all wheels, including any trailers. This means all wheels and axles are in proper alignment, not just the tractor steer tires. Axles must be perpendicular to the vehicle center line to avoid wear from thrust forces set up by wheels pointed to the side.
Steer tires should be checked for toe-in or toe-out, camber, and caster. Toe measures where the tires are pointing when seen from above. Caster is the angle of the steering assembly kingpin with the ground, as seen from the side. Camber measures if the tires are leaning inward or outward when seen from the front. Each of these affects tire wear.