Drivers often underestimate the value of their truck tires. Keeping them properly inflated not only improves the life of the tire and safety on the road, it can save you money both at the fuel pump and in future maintenance.
In addition to increased safety, proper tire care delivers many benefits to the driver and the fleet.
Correct tire pressure increases the tire’s tread life, the casing’s retreadability and saves fuel resulting in reduced fuel consumption and pollution. Versus an under inflated tire, Michelin estimates that the average driver can save nearly two weeks’ worth of fuel each year just by maintaining proper tire pressure.
Tire pressures need to be checked at a minimum on a weekly basis. While acknowledging that’s almost impossible for fleets that have trailers hidden in drop-yards, some inexpensive technology can alert drivers to under-inflated tires before driving away with one. Or better still, automatic inflation systems can re-inflate tires before they leave the drop yard. Barring that, drivers could check the pressure — but they seldom do. While whacking the tire with a pipe won’t give any indication how much air pressure is in the tire, at the very least the driver knows there’s some air in the thing.
Basic tire checks should be performed every day by drivers, and more thorough inspections should be done. The basic tire casing inspection includes checking the sidewall for bulges that may indicate internal damage such as a belt separation and watch for cuts in the sidewall that are deep enough to see the body ply. Check for objects penetrating the tire, such as nails and screws that can be pick up in yards.
The tread must be at least 2/32 of an inch deep on drive and trailer tires, and 4/32 on steer tires. Also be sure there is no exposed belts showing on the tread face. That’s an out-of-service violation as well.