Finding that magic combination of just the right equipment, maintenance and driving tactics to get the best mileage possible is more than a challenge—it’s an art. Accurate stats based on tests of the latest vehicles and equipment can help you be sure you’re investing your time and energy in the right strategies for better fuel economy.
In its most recent recommended practice (RP) on improving fuel economy, the American Trucking Association’s Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) discusses the relationship between tires and fuel consumption. TMC RP 111B, “Relationships Between Truck/Trailer Components and Fuel Economy,” notes, “Tire balance across 18 tires on a tractor-trailer combination has been documented to save as much as 2.2 percent in SAE J1326/RP 1102 Type II testing at two different facilities.”
Many fleets opt to skip balancing some or all of their tires, particularly those on the trailer, because balancing with weights has proven ineffective and cost-prohibitive over the thousands of miles they log year after year. But as the RP shows, running unbalanced tires consumes extra fuel.
The RP also notes that “tire tread depth is a predictor of fuel economy performance,” with fuel economy increasing by 6 percent when a tire’s tread is 50 percent worn and by 6.6 when it is 80 percent worn. Yet many tires have to be pulled before reaching that fuel “sweet spot” due to uneven wear.
The RP demonstrates the importance of balancing all wheel positions and achieving even tread wear when trying to get the best fuel economy out of your tires.
What have you seen in your fleet? Do you balance all 18 wheel positions? Have you tried EQUAL? Leave a comment and let us know what you’re doing to save fuel and extend tire life.