How to make commercial vehicle tyres last longer

Tyre management strategies that will inflate your bottom line

Commercial vehicle tyres are one of the highest expenses your fleet incurs. A good tyre maintenance program will help your drivers avoid blow-outs on their trucks. A good tyre management program will help your fleet tyres last longer. And when tyres last longer, your costs fall, and your profits increase.

In this article, we discuss the causes of wear and tear on commercial vehicle tyres that should inform your fleet tyre maintenance and management program.

Who is responsible for the tyre management program?

The choice of tyres and how they are used will depend on the specifics of your fleet’s operations. It requires a good knowledge of driver routes, loads, and driving styles. Motorway work is different to inner city driving. On-road is different to off-road. If a truck is turned around between one driver and the next without a break, tyre wear is different again.

The person best placed to examine how tyres in the fleet are affected is the fleet manager. By testing over a long period, they will be able to design a suitable tyre management and maintenance program that extends tyre life. The data collected will include:

  • Total mileage
  • Wear and tear
  • Tyre costs
  • Cost per mile
  • Warranties

What causes wear and tear on commercial vehicle tyres?

Shortened tyre life is caused by a range of factors that lead to irregular tyre wear. Taking action to shrink irregular wear and tear will help to reduce fleet fuel costs and extend tyre life. Here are the leading causes of irregular wear and tear on truck tyres:

·      Overloading

Your tyres bear all the weight of the truck and its load. A common mistake is using tyres that haven’t been manufactured for the load transported.

To ensure that you buy the correct tyres for the loads being transported, divide the maximum weight of the vehicle and its load by its number of tyres. If the vehicle and load are, say, six tonnes and it is supported by four wheels, you’ll need to buy tyres with a load rating of 1.5 tonnes.

·      Improper inflation

Improper inflation reduces tyre life and decreases safety. Overinflated tyres wear in the centre. Underinflated tyres wear on the shoulders and can damage sidewalls, with structural damage following.

Daily air pressure checks will ensure tyres are inflated correctly and get your drivers to check for damage to the tyres before, during, and after every trip.

·      Poor tyre rotation

Front tyres tend to wear most on their shoulders. Rear tyres typically wear first at the centre. A good tyre rotation policy can save your life and protect your tyres.

Rotating tyres is a time-consuming operation, so work out the optimum times to rotate without increasing costs. Most fleets coincide tyre rotation with regular service programs.

·      Improper alignment and balance

Misaligned and poorly balanced wheels are a major source of tyre wear. Balance weights can become dislodged or slip, causing the truck to run out of balance. Check alignment and balance at regular intervals.

·      Poor storage practices

How and where your trucks are parked will also impact tyre life. Oil, grease, fuel, water and other solutions degrade tyre rubber. If parked in one spot for too long, tyres can develop flat spots.

Park your trucks on a cool, dry, contamination-free surface.

·      Poor driving

The poor driving technique is another major factor in commercial tyre longevity. Cornering sharply, driving too fast over poorly surfaced roads, and braking heavily all contribute to tyre wear. Signs that a driver needs re-educating as to driving style include regular damage to sidewalls, denting, scratching, and bald patches.

How to increase the life of commercial vehicle tyres

As well as taking precautions against the specific causes of wear and tear we’ve mentioned above, you should also ensure that your truck tyres are cleaned regularly. Each time the vehicle is washed, clean the tyres thoroughly to remove debris, chemicals, mud and fuel.

Ensure that your tyre maintenance and management program doesn’t neglect the inside tyres.

You can also extend tyre life with an effective retread program. Providing the structure of the tyre is sound, there is no limit on how many retreads can be made. However, you should evaluate the cost-effectiveness of retreads as part of your tyre management program.

Keep an eye on costs

An integral part of a fleet tyre management program is cost maintenance. Your records should indicate the cost per mile and include a scrap tyre analysis. Keeping these records will help to decide on which tyres are best for which application, as well as highlighting problem routes and drivers that need to improve their technique.

We’re here to help. We’ve got extensive experience in the supply, fitting and maintenance of commercial vehicle tyres for a variety of fleets in Brisbane and Queensland. Contact us today on +61 07 3333 5510 or (by Skype or on our contact form) and discover the Darra advantage that benefits so many other fleet managers.

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.