A typical tractor trailer rig is sitting on a big investment in tires -- $8,000 and up depending on the brand and whether there are retreads in the mix.To compete effectively in today’s ultra competitive freight market, fleet managers must pay close attention to properly maintaining this significant investment . . . and that should include a tire education program for their drivers.
If you had any question about the important role drivers play in extending tire removal mileage, Fleet Equipment magazine contributor Al Cohn offered a good reminder recently.
Cohn discusses a study of a small fleet in the Northeast. Ten trucks were assigned to a dedicated heavy load, hauling a 53-ft. box trailer filled with beer. New tires were mounted within a 30-day period on the tractor and retreads mounted on the trailers. These 10 vehicles were all running with the same tractor and trailer make/model. The only variable was the driver.
The bottom line was that the driver impact on tire removal mileage reached as high as 35%. The driver with 40 years of experience had the highest tire removal miles in all wheel positions. Cohn noted that there was a direct correlation between years of driving experience and tire removal miles. The younger drivers tended to have more aggressive driving habits through a combination of sharper, harder turns and more aggressive braking. They also had a higher overall average vehicle speed.
To be sure, good drivers can come in all ages, but there’s no question that drivers who take care of the tires are a tremendous asset. And that certainly includes checking air pressure on a regular basis.
The reason that tire air pressure maintenance is talked about so much in the tire and trucking business is because it’s so important to tire longevity. Fuel and tires are two of the biggest expenses for fleets and owner operators. If you are not maintaining your tires at the proper air pressures, you're leaving serious dollars on the table.
Industry research reveals that underinflated tires will reduce tread life up to 25 percent. Underinflated tires build up heat. Heat is the number #1 enemy of tires, affecting the tire's rolling resistance which leads to reduced fuel economy. And, of course, too much heat can lead to tire failure and downtime, which takes more money out of your pocket.
Overinflated tires are also detrimental to tire performance and your bottom line. They are more susceptible to road hazards such as impact breaks. The contact patch/footprint is also distorted with an overinflated tire, leading to irregular wear characterized by center rib wear or rib punch wear.
Some fleets have driver incentives related to tires; for instance, where cash bonuses are paid to drivers who achieve the highest removal miles and who have the fewest tire related roadside service calls. Is your fleet doing anything like this?
Purchasing a tire brand that delivers a competitive cost per mile and is backed by strong warranties is also critical. If you would like to learn more about Double Coin, please click on the banner below.