In today’s article we will speak about the importance of good truck tires and touch on the advantages of selecting the right type that will serve your needs and at the same time won’t hurt the budget.
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When it comes to tires we have an enormous and almost confusing range to choose from, depending on value, manufacturer, design and specifications. Tires throughout the years have been designed, modified and developed to performance perfection. But it was not always like that.
Rubber pressurized air-filled tires… did you know they are almost as old as the automobile itself?
As the story goes, it all started way back in the 1880’s! That’s when Scot John Boyd Dunlop was watching his son riding down the country road on his tri-cycle. He was having problems riding on solid rubber tires, going slow and looking pretty uncomfortable.
In trying to help his son to have a better experience, Dunlop took the tri-cycle, wrapped its wheels in thin rubber sheets, glued them together and inflated them with a football pump. That was the very first air cushioning system known in history. Dunlop developed the basic foundation and the concept of a pneumatic tire.
And that is how her Majesty “The Tire” was invented!
Who would ever thought that by trying to improve his son’s riding experience, he would at the same time change the world forever?! Hmm… Figures.
Not even a year passed by and Dunlop’s invention made its racing debut on two wheels. He immediately patented his idea and started to develop his invention into a commercial venture, founding the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co. Ltd. Soon after that he opened his first tire plant in Dublin, Ireland. A few years later he opened a new tire factory in mainland Europe which was built in Hanau, Germany. By 1895 Dunlop tires were also being sold in France and Canada, and manufactured in Australia and the USA.
In twenty years, Dunlop had made the solid tire obsolete and grown from pioneer to the first global multinational company. It manufactured worldwide, and sold worldwide.
In 1984 came the consolidation of Dunlop’s European and US tire operations with its Japanese business, as part of the Sumitomo group. In 1999 Sumitomo and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company decided on a global alliance, becoming the world’s biggest tire producer. Dunlop in Europe is now part of that joint venture encompassing six companies and is embedded within Goodyear Dunlop Tires B.V.
Not everyone is concerned with the history of an item, understandable. But often unknown is why things are developed and made the way they are. With businesses being so concerned with profit margins, training, ever changing regulations, aging vehicles, inspections, and staffing concerns it is easy to over look the single most important piece of equipment: The tires.
Regardless if your operation is highway, regional, urban or on/off-road, the key item often overlooked are the tires. Pardon the expression, but this is where the rubber meets the road and can have the greatest impact on your maintenance and safety costs. Commercial truck tires that exceed in mileage, wear, and tread depth can increase operational cost.
How so, you ask?
Bald tires increase braking time, especially on wet or icy roads. Blowouts cause delays but can also cause accidents. Cheap quality and retreads are things that don’t last.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts reported that in 2011 more than 800 people were killed on American roads by “non-fixed objects” (roadway debris).
Tires are expensive, and we are looking for every way possible to save money. Most of the times we shy away from the top quality, and we would like to save a few pennies more by purchasing the cheaper deal.
But again, same as it is with most things in life the best way to do will be to take the middle ground. We might not be able to afford to buy the best quality out there on the market, but we sure can choose the middle priced tiers, and that way we will not only save on the years that our vehicle have left in it, but we will also save us some money on the long run.
Many in the trucking industry save money by purchasing retreads. Used tires which have had new thread ‘glued’ onto an old tire. Besides being economical, these work on local routes and with low stress loads. But as the distance grows, so does the risk of failure.
When that happens the ‘new tread’ peels off and it doesn’t simply disappear. No, it flies off at a high rate of speed littering the road. We all have seen that. How many times have drivers had to swerve to avoid the debris left behind? This is also a safety hazard as it can cause drivers to lose control, or can hit a following car.
This leads to unhappy customers, potential lawsuits, and bad publicity. Not to mention possible fines for failure to adhere to industry standards and legal guidelines. Another factor is increased insurance premiums, not to mention loss revenue from replacing damaged equipment.
This all leads to determining operating cost versus safety which is a bit harder for many companies to figure out. It depends on several factors. The environment and terrain which your trucks operate on, the distance traveled, long haul versus local….
Perhaps you have dedicated vehicles that only operate in the lot. Whatever your needs are, you must consider the safety and long term cost over the immediate savings by buying cheap bad tires. Basically would you rather spend an extra $100 per tire now or tens of thousands later?
So remember choose wisely…
This is something else to remember. Tires are often overlooked, when performing regular maintenance check the tires. Remind drivers to check their tires when they stop for fuel or rest. But also this needs to be a mandatory part of every fleet’s maintenance plan.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) offers some great information to further assist businesses and driver to better understand the importance of proper tire care (and other important information about safety, operations and etc.).
As stated earlier plan regular preventative maintenance, have a schedule.
When preventive maintenance is performed regularly, vehicle lifespan will be greatly increased. A vehicle which needs to be taken out of service can cause inconvenience and disrupt schedules.
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