NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The considerable amount of science going into every tire to improve its durability and fuel performance can unfortunately be quickly undone by shoddy maintenance practices.
Consider that a study of scrap tire piles across North America found that the main cause for truck tire scrap-outs is “run flat,” an industry term for tires kept in operation with their inflation 20% below what it should be. Run flat is often the root cause of sidewall ruptures, tread separations and fatigue damage.
And, of course, underinflation has a large impact on fuel performance. Industry research shows that a truck tire underinflated by 10% can reduce fuel efficiency by 0.5%.
“As a fleet if you have a lousy air pressure maintenance program, you can buy all the new technology you want and you will still be leaving fuel economy on the table,” warns Guy Walenga, director engineering, commercial tire products and technologies, Bridgestone Americas.
Walenga was among a host of truck tire experts who briefed transportation industry journalists on the science behind truck tires at Bridgestone’s Media Boot Camp held here Tuesday.
Proper vehicle alignment is another basic that has to be taken care of to ensure you are getting the fuel performance and durablity you are paying for out of your tires.
The recession and slow recovery has caused many fleets to tighten their operations and try to do more with less; that has made it even harder to stay on top of proper tire maintenance practices.
“It’s our job to make sure (fleets and owner/operators) are keeping their eye on the ball with their tire practices so they don’t come back to bite them six months down the road,” said John Boynton, vice-president, sales, Bridgestone Commercial Solutions.
The company actively helps out by putting on educational seminars, conducting fleet inspections, working through the findings, and collaborating with fleets to put better tire programs in place, pointed out Kurt Danielson, president Bridgestone Commercial Solutions. It also educates its dealers to help them understand good and bad maintenance practices, which they can then pass on to their customers.
“You’ve got to take care of the basics,” Walenga stressed. “These tires are assets, not commodities. They are expensive stuff.”