Why is Proper Tire Pressure Important?
It is crucial for a fleet to have a proactive maintenance program, especially one that involves the upkeep of their wheel end. With the cost of tires being one of the highest expenses for a fleet, keeping them at their ideal tire pressure will help maximize their life.
When it comes to maintaining your tires, it is important to make sure that your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s suggested inflation pressure. Doing this will ensure your tires can support the load you’re carrying and can also increase your fuel economy. It can also increase your wear life and make your truck safer on the road.
Underinflation is the most common issue with tires and is the number one cause of premature tire removal. It is estimated that 95% of tire failures are due to low tire pressure. Driving with under-inflated tires can prove to be very dangerous. Heavy Duty Trucking noted that a tire running at 10% below its required pressure operated 20 degrees warmer. Excessive heat buildup occurs due to flexing in the sidewall and can result in internal tire damage, as well as blowouts. According to the TMC S.2 Tire & Wheel Study, 20% under-inflation can reduce the tire life by 30%.
Under-inflation also forces your engine to work harder, which reduces your fuel economy by at least 1%. With tires being the second-highest operating cost, and fuel being the first, consistently driving on under-inflated tires will likely affect your bottom line.
It is important not to try and over-compensate for underinflation by over-inflating your tires. Doing this will easily ruin a good tire. Overinflation has less of an established safety risk, but it still creates negative and costly effects for the tire. Overinflation causes the tires to be tight and more likely to be punctured or cut. You will also be changing your tire’s footprint, which affects its traction. As a result, you will experience irregular tire wear, reducing your tire’s wear life. This can cost between 7% and 15% of the tire life.
How to Maintain Proper Inflation
According to Fleet Equipment Magazine, tires lose 1-3lbs PSI inflation pressure per month, so it is important to check your tire pressure at frequently. When checking your tire pressure, you want to make sure your truck has been sitting for several hours so that your tires are cold.
During your monthly inspection, it’s not only important to visually look over the tire, but feel for signs of uneven wear. Bob Bortner, our resident expert on alignment, suggests that checking air pressure it is a great time to do a quick check of the tires to look for uneven tire wear. He also says the easiest way to check for tire wear is to run your hands from the outside to the inside of the tire , and then across the tread of the tire. If you feel any sharp edging or feathering across the tire, chances are you have an alignment or component related issue. This quick check can determine if a potential toe issue is present. The toe setting is a direct tire wear angle that can decrease tire mileage considerably when not set properly. The general rule of thumb is if both insides of steer tires are wearing the vehicle is toed out, and if both outsides are wearing, the vehicle is toed in.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
In 2005, the NHTSA published a rule for FMVSS No. 138 stating that passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, and trucks and buses with a GVWR of 10,000lbs or less needed to be equipped with a TPMS capable of detecting 25% under-inflation in any combination of tires. All vehicles manufactured after Sept 1, 2007 were required to be equipped with a TPMS.
In 2011, tests were conducted to analyze the effectiveness of having TPMS systems in vehicles in order to promote proper tire inflation. This test was done on vehicles ranging from model years of 2004-2011.
The results found an estimated 71% of all vehicles of model years 2004-2011 have at least one tire that is underinflated by at least 1 PSI, and 12% have at least one severely underinflated tire. Based on the cumulative results of the tests, using a TPMS is estimated to be 55% effective at preventing severe underinflation. The main goal of the TMPS is to reduce underinflation, but the tests also showed improved fuel economy.
- Use Tire Sealants to Protect Against Punctures and Air Loss
Long distances and unpredictable road surfaces traveled by semis can expose your tires to hazards like nails and other road debris. If the exterior wall of your truck’s tire is punctured, you could suffer a flat at the very least.
If the damage is severe, a blowout could occur. The serious consequences that come with a blowout include potential accidents and harm to your driver as well as other motorists, which is why it is important to protect against punctures by using a tire sealant.
A sealant such as our STS TIRE SEAL or ECO SEAL can be added to your tires at mounting to give your tires puncture protection if you encounter debris on or off the road. Download our Tire Sealant Guide to decide which sealant will work best for your fleet!
Adding sealant is as easy as pouring it into the tires before they are mounted. The natural rotation of the tires on the road will spread the liquid evenly throughout the inside of the tire. The sealant itself is a viscous fluid that incorporates sealing fibers to stop air from escaping in the case of a puncture.
While some sealants can be corrosive to the interior of your wheel, our line of sealants are specially formulated not to become acidic. This means that, unlike some sealants which can only be used as a temporary fix when you repair a punctured tire, our products can be installed when you mount a tire and remain inside the tire during its service life as preventative maintenance.
Regular Tire Maintenance is Crucial
Keeping your tires properly inflated is an extremely important part of your fleet’s regular maintenance regimen. It not only benefits your bottom line, but it keeps your driver and other motorists safe on the roadway. Work with your local tire professional or check your tire manufacturer’s website to get the correct inflation pressure for you. You can learn more about inflation and other maintenance practices by downloading our guide today!