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Under pressure

We all feel it at some point in our lives. Perhaps some of us more than others. Pressure, over time, can take its toll, wear us down and run us thin. You know that I am talking about tire pressure…right? I mean, this is a fleet management blog after all.

Like so many other things in our business, our tires are often taken for granted. As long as they don’t blow up, they are pretty much ignored. However, here’s a little tidbit you might not have known before…

FACT: Tires represent a fleet vehicle’s second highest operating cost.

That’s a big chunk of change for most of us and enough to warrant some pretty serious attention from most fleet owners and managers.

So what are the things that we need to be considering and managing in regards to our fleet’s tires? Glad you asked. Here are the main points to keep tabs on.

1) Tire Pressure: This is the simplest thing to do and yet most fleet managers are getting it wrong. Incorrect tire pressure, specifically underinflating, causes a wide range of problems which include;

  • Reduced fuel economy (up to 5%)
  • Increased tire wear/decreased overall service life (up to 40% reduction)
  • Decrease in safe handling capabilities (think accidents and lawsuits)

FACT: Nearly 50 percent of all passenger vehicles surveyed had tire(s) that were underinflated.

2) Tire Rotation: Tires wear unevenly. Three point turns and steering, in general, contribute greatly. Tires wear more and faster when they are not properly balanced and aligned. So, to get the most out of those rubbery investments, rotate your fleet’s tires. Recommended frequency? Around 7,500 miles. Doing this during oil changes is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. End result? Up to 20 percent increase in tire service life.

3) Balance and Alignment: Proper balance and alignment are critical to the safety of your vehicle. On top of that, improperly aligned and balanced tires lead to MAJOR uneven wear issues and can even cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

4) The Correct Tires: I know, I know. This is a no brainer right? Wrong. Increasingly, vehicle manufacturers are designing their trucks to take a VERY specific tire. Deviating from this specification in any way can result in potentially unsafe handling and accidents. Before changing or purchasing tires for your fleet vehicle, be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommended specs and stick to them. Chances are that your truck was designed with those exact tires in mind. Get creative with your choices and you may find yourself having to get creative with your resume.

I understand that all of these things may seem like small pieces in the big picture. But all those small pieces and percentages tend to add up fast on a vehicle. Then multiply that by the number of vehicles in your fleet and the dollar signs become significant.

More importantly, your tires are the only connection that your trucks have to the road. Make them a good one.

And don’t forget to relax. Pressure is a killer.