Tire Maintenance

The holidays season gets us all busy. Don’t let it get you too busy that you’re not doing general maintenance that can help keep you and/or your employees safe out on the road. Here are some tips on what to look for to see if you need new tires.

One of the gauges reads to 100 psi (right) while the other gauge reads to 150 psi (left). Make sure that the tire gauges read truck tire pressures and aren’t only for passenger car tires, which operate at lower pressures. Photos by Les Smart.

One of the gauges reads to 100 psi (right) while the other gauge reads to 150 psi (left). Make sure that the tire gauges read truck tire pressures and aren’t only for passenger car tires, which operate at lower pressures. Photos by Les Smart.

“Tire Pressure

This one seems obvious, but do you (or your supervisor) check each tire’s pressure periodically? Or do you leave it up to your maintenance provider? Buy a decent tire gauge and use it. There are two types of gauges. Make sure that the tire gauges read truck tire pressures and aren’t only for passenger car tires, which operate at lower pressures. If properly equipped, even vans and SUVs run on a light truck or LT tires.

One of the gauges reads to 100 psi while the other gauge reads to 150 psi. Make sure the gauge will read the pressure needed for your tires. There is a decal on the door jamb or “B” pillar that tells you what to inflate your tires too; it should be in every light truck and van. If it’s not there or is illegible, then go to the manufacturer’s website to look for the data. There is also a maximum load/pressure embedded in the tire’s sidewall.

Tire pressure needs to be consistent with dual-wheeled vehicles. If the inside dual is underinflated (and this isn’t easily seen), the majority of the load is being carried by one tire, not both.

Don’t mix treads on the rear axle(s) on dual-wheeled vehicles. This can result in uneven wear at a minimum and a loss of traction at the most unfortunate time.

With a dual wheel vehicle, valve stem extenders can make it easier to access the inside dual when adding air. Photo by Les Smart.

With a dual wheel vehicle, valve stem extenders can make it easier to access the inside dual when adding air. Photo by Les Smart.

You can also add valve stem extenders. That way, with a dual wheel vehicle, the inside dual is easier to access when adding air. I highly recommend these; they work and are inexpensive.

Tire Treads

Make sure there is adequate tread left on ALL tires. Some passenger tires have wear bars in the tread. Replace when your tires have the wear bars, even with the rest of the tread.

Most maintenance providers will not replace a tire prior to being worn down to 4/32 inches. Ideally, I like to have them replaced before that. Never let them get bald or threadbare! Remember your families, drivers, and other lives depend on you keeping your tire fleet in good shape.

If there is a mismatch in tread designs on the rear of dual-wheeled vehicles (see photo below) due to a failure replacement while in route, make sure your tire provider corrects this at its earliest opportunity. The new replacement tire can always be matched with others of the same design and used in the future. Check that the tires are wearing smoothly.

Tire Sidewalls

Check your sidewalls for cuts and damage (bulges). A tire can be cut on the side and appear to be serviceable, yet rain and standing water can penetrate to the steel belts and corrode the belts. This will lead to a failure of the tire.”

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