Podcast by Dr. Tony Vercillo 11/14/14
Podcast by Dr. Tony Vercillo 8/15/14
Author: Dr. Tony Vercillo (a.k.a., Dr. Fleet)
Boy, I’m tire…d. Pun intended.
Most fleet managers have heard the hyperbola about how important it is to keep truck tires properly inflated. Under inflation hurts fuel economy, destroys casings, and reduces tire life… yada, yada, yada.
So what is meant by the term underinflated?
By definition, its any pressure that is less than the minimum recommended amount for the specific tire load rating. For example, a steer tire with a load of 6,000 pounds would be underinflated at approximately 105 psi. A drive tire loaded to 4,500 pounds would be underinflated at about 74 psi. It all depends on the load on the tire and the minimum inflation pressure for the load.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is currently exploring how to define under inflation for enforcement purposes. CVSA has already defined a “flat” tire; that is, any tire that is under inflated by 50% of the proper psi for that tire. The CVSA now wants a similarly clean and simple definition of an under-inflated tire.
Regardless of the definition, it has been proven time and time again that tire under inflation reeks havoc on fuel economy and tire life. As shown in the chart below, courtesy of Goodyear, tires that were underinflated in a controlled test yielded the following results:
A tire underinflated by 10psi realized 1% less fuel economy. Other sources claim that tire inflation impacts fuel economy up to 4% depending upon the severity of underinflation. In addition, underinflation, according to Goodyear, also reduces tire mileage expectancy significantly (a tire underinflated by 20psi has 12% less tire life).
Author: Dr. Tony Vercillo (a.k.a., Dr. Fleet)
This blog post delves into the ostensibly boring topic of truck tires. Specifically, 10 tips on how to reduce the cost of tires within a large fleet of vehicles. When it comes to tires, most people only know that they are black, round, and that the air goes on the inside!
This post will provide a high level look at ways to significantly reduce your fleet’s tire expenses.
Meet with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and/or your tire supplier to properly spec the right tire for your precise application and operating environment. Select the proper tire required for your vehicle, considering all the factors associated with tire selection (tread design, depth, speed and heat rating, ply rating, life cycle expectation, etc.). Never assume that the tire being provided by the OEM is the right one for your fleet.
Establish National Account type pricing through your tire supplier. Depending upon volume, this will reduce tire expenses as much as 25%. Gather tire usage and expense data and then send out a RFQ (request for quote) to the major tire suppliers.
Enforce pre and post trip inspections that include tire tread depth and inflation checks. At a minimum, formally check tire pressure twice/month (even weekly if possible). Remember, proper inflation can increase fuel economy and tire life. You may want to add a tire inflation management system.
Under-inflation by as little as 10 percent can reduce your tire’s life by as much as 15%.
Here are some rules to follow on tire inflation:
Perform routine preventive maintenance checks on all vehicles at least every 120 days…these checks should include an inspection of all suspension components, wheel/tire balancing and alignment. Improper balancing and/or poor alignment are major reasons for premature tire wear.
Use recap tires where appropriate. Be sure to use your own casings where possible and track the number of caps/casing (maximum of 3). Recaps cost approximately 1/3 less than a new tire. Of course, recaps are only to be used on the rear drive tires.
Probably the two most neglected areas in any tire management program are the proper matching of tires by size (in dual-wheel applications) and an appropriate tire rotation schedule where applicable. Whenever possible, it is a good idea to try to match tire tread patterns in dual tire and front tire applications. Tires that are mismatched by as little as 1/4 of an inch difference in circumferences can cause the smaller tire to be dragged up to 12 feet in a single mile, or 200-plus miles for every 100,000 miles of use. In addition, the proper rotation of tires, where appropriate, can also be a crucial element of any tire program.
Conduct driver and mechanic training sessions that include:
All tire valve stems should have a seal-type valve cap to protect tires from road dirt entering the stems and starting slow tire leaks.
Run a fuel economy contest that creates an incentive for the drivers to properly inspect tires for uneven wear, out of balance, alignment problems, low inflation pressure, etc.
Consider a tire shield product such as RunSure. RunSure is a non-hazardous, non-toxic propylene glycol-based gel, combined with crumb rubber, rust inhibitors and gums held in suspension. It is professionally and easily installed through the valve stem. There is no mess or cleanup required. RunSure forms a semi-stationary gel coating on the interior of the tire opposite the tread. During the initial use, RunSure creates a razor thin glycol coating to the sidewalls, which helps prevent porosity bleed and maintains proper tire pressure. It also protects the tread-zone from punctures up to 3/8 inch diameter by instantly and permanently sealing the tire with no appreciable pressure loss. See their product demonstration at www.runsure.com.
Author: Tony Vercillo
Ever since the Saber Tooth Tiger there has been a debate about whether or not a Private Fleet should own or lease their vehicles. I can see Fred Flintstone arguing with the lease salesman…
The purpose of this blog post is to provide some insight into how you should make this decision. The reality is that this question needs to be answered methodically and in the proper sequence. To answer the own versus lease question, follow this prescription:
Step 1: Determine the optimal life cycle retention period for your fleet by vehicle type. A general rule of thumb here is:
Straight Trucks – 6 years
Tractors – 5 years
Trailers – 8 years
Light Duty Vehicles – 4 years
Material Handling – 5 years
A formal life cycle analysis should be performed to determine the appropriate retention period for your individual operation.
Step 2: Decide whose money you want to use. The question here is: “How much value does your organization place on its hard earned cash? Most companies place the value at 10%; meaning, a project needs to have an ROI of at least 10% before investing in a new venture. If your company is cash rich and borrows at close to the Prime rate, you may wish to use internal funds. If your borrowing rate is 6%, you may wish to use OPM (other people’s money).
Step 3: Assuming you decide to use lease funds, decide which financial instrument makes the most sense for your organization. There are a number of lease approaches, including dealer supplied financing, bank financing, TRAC or straight Finance lease, etc. Your Finance Team should be involved to ensure meeting all FASB requirements.
Step 4: Make a decision surrounding who should perform the maintenance, legalization (licensing, registration, FHUT, etc.) and other fleet services. Assuming you have the internal staffing, you may wish to do this in-house. If you are short-staffed, you may want to use a Full Service Lease approach that includes all maintenance and fleet related services. A key decision here is making sure TIRES are included in whatever maintenance program you decide to choose.
RunSure, LLC provides a tire shield and inflation management system that prevents tire failures and ensures proper tire inflation which is the key to improved fuel economy and reduction in carbon footprint. For more information, go to www.runsure.com
Author: Al Cohn
Talking with managers from many of the larger commercial fleets at a recent TMC meeting, it was clear what fleets are looking for when it comes to their tires: Fleets want tires that generate the best possible fuel economy; highest mileage to removal; excellent retreadability; and tires that are not prone to developing uneven and irregular wear. Tires that are less sensitive to common vehicle issues such as tractor and trailer misalignment were also high on the list.
Improving vehicle fuel economy is clearly desired by every fleet. Even a 0.1 or 0.2 improvement in miles/gallon will save a substantial amount of money for your company. Sure, it is helpful to get an extra five to 10,000 miles out of every set of tires, but the trump card is mpg.
If you had 100 trucks averaging six mpg that travel 100,000 miles per year, each truck would consume 16,667 gal. of fuel per year. If the fleet was able to see a conservative 2% improvement in fuel economy due solely to spec’ing fuel efficient tires, then those same 100 trucks would each only use 16,340 gal./year. A savings of 327 gal. per year per truck at $4 a gal. for diesel, computes to an annual fuel savings of $130,800 for the 100 trucks.
To maximize tire fuel economy, it is also assumed that tires are properly inflated. Running tires that are underinflated will negate the advantage of purchasing fuel efficient tires. It is important to be working with your tire professional to develop a serious tire pressure maintenance program.
The best way to maximize tire removal miles is to significantly reduce irregular wear. Not only does early onset of irregular wear lead to premature tire removal, but also adversely affects vehicle fuel economy. A tire with smooth, even wear will have the best fuel economy versus the same tire that has, for example, shoulder cupping and/or high-low lug wear.
There are many tire makes/models available in the market along with a range of tread depths depending on the specific wheel position. Higher tread depth does not necessarily correlate with higher mileage. The deeper the tread depth, the more heat will be generated—and heat is never a good thing when it comes to tires. Too much heat leads to breakdown of the rubber compounds that will also hurt the casing retreadability. Too much tread on a lug drive tire design will cause those lugs to squirm as the tire runs down the highway. This will lead to uneven and irregular wear and also reduce fuel economy. There is always a sweet spot when it comes to choosing initial tire tread depth.
The best way to maximize the tire casing for retreading is to keep the tire running cool by maintaining proper inflation pressure, not driving over the speed limit and, of course, not running over the legal load. Running tires down to the legal tread depth limit of 4/32-in. for steers and 2/32-in. for drives and trailers will help to increase removal miles, but is usually not good for protecting the tire casing. Cuts, punctures and stone holding/drilling occur when the tread rubber starts getting too low. This is why it is common practice for fleets to target 6/32 or 8/32 in. remaining tread depth for a steer tire, and somewhere between 4/32 and 8/32 in. tread on drives and 3/32 to 4/32 in. on trailers when determining when to take a tire out of service. A retread is approximately one-third the price of a new tire, so it only makes sense to protect that casing and maximize the number of retreads per casing.
A well thought through tire program will go a long way in reducing cost per mile and improving fuel economy for your fleet.
Author: HDT Staff
28. Buy fuel-efficient tires
Getting the right tire at the right wheel position can improve fuel economy by several percentage points.
About 13% of each gallon of fuel consumed goes solely to overcoming rolling resistance. That can vary by the load on the tire, the tread pattern and of course, inflation pressure.
“The relationship between rolling resistance and fuel consumption is about 8:1,” says Rick Phillips, senior director of sales, commercial and OTR products at Yokohama Tire. “An 8% reduction in tire rolling resistance will result in a 1% savings in fuel consumption.”
Various wheel positions have different impacts on fuel economy.
“On a tractor-trailer combination, the steer tires contribute 15-20% to fuel economy, drive tires 30-40% and trailer tires about 40-50%,” says William Estupinan, vice president of technical service for Giti Tire USA. “The first priority for a fleet interested in saving a significant amount of money is to start moving toward fuel-efficient tires for the trailer axles.”
A tight rib pattern, thinner tread — 12/32- to 20/32-inch of tread depth — and advanced compounding make today’s trailer tires very fuel-efficient. With drive tires, traction and durability are higher on the list of priorities. But traction hasn’t really suffered in a significant way in the quest for lower rolling resistance, manufacturers say.
29. Wide-base singles: Carry a spare
One of the big concerns with wide-base tires was the inability to “limp” to the nearest repair facility if you had a flat, as you could with a set of duals. Mesilla Valley Transportation designed a bracket to carry a spare, and bought the tires in quantity so they could get them at a lower cost. ATDynamics offers such a mount, called the SuperSpare.
30. Fuel-efficient duals or wide-base singles?
Some fleets find wide-base single tires work best for improved fuel efficiency, while others prefer fuel-efficient duals.
The basic advantage claimed by promoters of single tires is fewer sidewalls. Eliminating two sidewalls and bead areas by switching to wide-base singles can cut flex-related rolling resistance nearly in half. There are weight savings as well, something in the order of 800 pounds over four axles.
For low-rolling-resistance tires, various tire models usually claim a certain percentage of savings (which some say you can discount by 50%). If a tire claims a 10% reduction in rolling resistance, equipping the entire truck with such tires would net you a 1% reduction in fuel consumption. But you’re going to give up some mileage with a thinner tread.
Al Cohn, director of new market development and engineering support for Pressure Systems International (makers of the Meritor Tire Inflation System), estimates the cost per mile for a typical non-fuel-efficient tire is $0.011, or 1.1 cents, while a typical fuel-efficient tire is $0.013, or 1.3 cents.
A 1% savings in fuel consumption, going from 6.0 mpg to 6.06 mpg, would save $660 at $4 per gallon over 100,000 miles. According to Cohn, giving up about 10% in the tread mileage for the fuel-efficient dual tires would cost about $200 per year, yielding a net savings of about $460 per year per truck.
31. Don’t scrub away your savings
You’ve heard the expression, “It’s like herding cats.” It’s like that with tires when your alignment is out of whack. With all those wheels heading in different directions, it’s unlikely you’re getting the best fuel economy.
Bridgestone’s Guy Walenga says when a wheel is misaligned, it’s like dragging it sideways across the pavement.
“If you have a 2-inch misalignment between steer and drive tires on tractor with a 181-inch wheelbase, it would be like scrubbing the tires across the pavement for about 60 feet for every mile you drove,” he says. “Increasing the scale for dramatic effect, over a year, that would amount to dragging the tires sideways for about 1,100 miles. Not only is that going to produce tire wear, it saps fuel economy, too. It takes a lot of energy to drag a tire sideways, and the energy comes right from your fuel tank.”
Justin Gonzalez, heavy-duty marketing manager at Hunter Engineering, says his company is starting to get inquiries from fleets that are already doing everything else to reduce fuel costs. “If it’s preventing tire wear, it’s saving fuel. Any forces that are scrubbing rubber off of tires are also increasing resistance to forward movement. That hurts fuel economy.”
Checking trailer and drive axle alignment can be as simple as using a measuring tape, while steering geometry can be more complicated. Machines from Hunter, Bee Line and others are one solution. Portable laser devices from MD Alignment, E-Z Line and others offer a do-it-yourself solution.
32. Find your ideal tire pressure
Many fleets choose 100 psi as an arbitrary but safe pressure, but it might not be ideal.
Yokohama’s Phillips suggests fleets should be running dual tires in a fully loaded tandem axle (34,000 pounds) at 80 psi, not 100.
“I’ve seen very little evidence of quantifiable fuel economy gains from running at 100 psi rather than 80, but I can show lots of tires that were scrapped prematurely because of irregular wear arising from overinflation.”
There are several variables that fleets consider when setting a standardized pressure, including ambient temperature changes, vehicle speed, and of course, load, explains Donn Kramer, director of product marketing innovation, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems.
“A tire with an initial cold inflation pressure of 100 psi at 60 degrees Fahrenheit ambient temperature will experience a 2-psi change for every 10-degree F change in ambient temperature. And fleets operating at 66 to 70 mph should increase their tires’ cold inflation pressure by 5 psi.”
Find the ideal pressure for your fleet based on loaded conditions, and use all the help you can get to maintain it.
33. Inflate your tires, not your fuel bill
Underinflation kills not only tires, but also fuel economy. A tire underinflated by 10% can result in 20% increase in rolling resistance, and a corresponding drop in fuel economy.
It’s hard to imagine giving up 2-4% in fuel efficiency to something as simple as maintaining correct inflation pressure.
Improper inflation bites you in two ways: It reduces the ability of the tire sidewall to support the load on the tire, which increases the degree to which the sidewall will flex; and it changes the footprint or contact patch of the tire.
“It is not the tire, but the air inside it that supports the load,” says Guy Walenga, Bridgestone director of engineering, commercial products and technologies. “And it is the air inside the casing that keeps that casing the right shape.”
34. Stretch (and record tire pressure regularly)
Drivers are encouraged to stretch their muscles before a trip to reduce injuries. They also must check tire pressure. Combine the two activities, suggests Jeff Baer of LinkeDrive, which makes the PedalCoach in-cab driver fuel economy coaching system.
“Reaching low to actually check the pressure is a great opportunity to perform back and lower body stretches,” he says. “Checking tire pressure is the first step towards maintaining it, but recording it and maintaining this information can show easily where it is not being checked, and thus the opportunity to improve. Keeping a record of both to feed a participation bonus can reap big rewards.”
35. Make it easy for drivers to air up their tires
“I love it when fleets have air at the fuel islands and none of the hoses work,” says driver David Fanning from El Paso, Texas. “These are the same people so concerned about saving fuel but won’t maintain the fuel islands.”
That’s why New Jersey-based NFI has put in air hoses at all its facilities and keeps them working.
Some conscientious drivers have carried an air hose they you can plug into a wet tank or a gladhand to pump air when a tire needs it. However, Fanning notes that idle shutdown timers may make this impractical.
36. Use automatic tire monitoring and inflation systems
A U.S. Department of Transportation field test of automatic tire inflation and tire pressure monitoring systems found a 1.4% reduction in fuel consumption for fleets using the systems.
John Morgan, product manager for Meritor Tire Inflation Systems by PSI, notes that “The final bit of proof is that the fleets in the trial are still using the systems, and have equipped more vehicles in their fleets since the study wrapped up in 2010.”
“When we first install a TPMS system on a fleet, they can’t believe what they see,” says Jim Samocki, general manager at Doran. “Tire pressures are usually all over the map. That’s when the impact of improper inflation starts to sink in. They’re thinking of tire wear and damage, of course, but fuel economy is never far behind.”
Other systems available include Advantage PressurePro TPMS, Airgo ATIS, Aperia Technologies’ Halo ATIS, Bendix SmarTire TPMS, Hendrickson TireMaax ATIS, Stemco’s Aeris ATIS, TireStamp TPMS, and others.
Tire pressure monitoring systems are also increasingly offering the ability to use telematics to remotely notify fleet management of under-inflated tires in real time, in addition to warning drivers.
37. Don’t pull tires too early
Tires that can be run out to the minimum acceptable tread depth, without being pulled prematurely due to irregular wear, “contribute greatly to reducing a vehicle’s fuel consumption, since tires with reduced tread depth roll more freely,” notes Bill Sweatman, president and CEO of Marangoni Tread N.A.
Manufacturer studies show that a tire that is 80% worn is something like 6.5% more fuel-efficient than a new tire, due to the thinner tread. Unfortunately, tires pulled prematurely due to irregular or uneven wear won’t see their best days from a fuel efficiency perspective.
38. Retreading offers the opportunity to spec your tread pattern and compound from what is emerging as a boutique offering of fuel-efficient treads.
In June 2012, EPA created a SmartWay designation for retreaded tires, allowing the manufacturers to develop specific treads, with various patterns and compounds similar to their original offerings. Since then, more than 40 tread options for tractors and trailers have emerged from industry suppliers such as Bandag, Continental, Michelin, Marangoni, and others. The beauty of this is you can now apply a top-of-the-line fuel efficient tread to any suitable casing, expanding your options for a low-rolling-resistance spec.
39. Get ready for ATIS for drive axles
While automatic tire inflation systems are so far seen only on trailers, a few manufacturers are readying products for drive axles, too. It’s more complicated getting air into the hub when the axle shaft’s in in the way, but it’s coming. A Meritor-PSI system is said to be in field tests, as is a system from Airgo.
But there’s one system available now from Aperia Technologies that uses an internal pump rather than air lines to deliver up to 120 psi to the drive tires.
“The system operates on a similar principle to a self-winding watch,” says Josh Carter, CEO and co-founder of Aperia Technologies, which makes the Halo system. “It uses a wheel’s rotational motion to pump and maintain optimal tire pressure. It does not require any connection to a compressor, and can be installed in about 10 minutes per wheel end.”
40. Get in their face
NFI, a New Jersey-based fleet, is putting automatic tire inflation systems on its trailers, but that still leaves the tractors, as well as older trailers that haven’t been converted, says Bill Bliem, senior vice president of fleet services. “We have put on a big push this year with our drivers on pretrip inspections, and part of that pretrip is checking the air pressure – not kicking the tires or hitting them with a club,” he says. The solution? Clips mounted on the side of the driver’s seat so the air pressure gauge is staring them in the face when they open the door, a not-so-subtle reminder of what they’re supposed to do.
41. Keep tires and wheels balanced
Because tires are part of a rotating mass that revolves around the axle spindle, the entire package — hub, brake drum or rotor, wheel, and tire — can affect fuel efficiency.
When a tire is not balanced, it vibrates (roughly 10 times a second at 66 mph), causing irregular wear (which contributes to tires being pulled before they wear down to their most fuel-efficient tread thickness) and wasting energy meant to propel the truck forward.
John Tak, director of marketing and product development at IMI, which offers the Equal internal balancing product, says an out-of-balance tire will wear more quickly and develop uneven wear patterns.
“If you want to get optimum mileage from the tread, and therefore optimum fuel efficiency from the tire in the last third of its life, balancing is necessary,” he says. “Balancing isn’t expensive at all compared to the fuel-saving benefits.”
There’s also evidence that a balanced tire and wheel, even in its early or mid stage of life, can improve fuel economy. SAE Type II fuel economy testing done in 2008 for Counteract Balancing Beads at a test track in Indiana, revealed that properly balanced wheels produced a 2.2% improvement in fuel economy.
Coley Wolkoff, Couteract national accounts manager, notes that in these days of four-dollar-diesel, 2.2% is more significant than it may sound. Of course, traditional balancing methods are effective as well, for most of the same reasons.
“Balancing machines help detect radial and lateral run-out as well as non-concentric mounting and even improper matching of the high and low spots on the tire and the wheel,” says Jason Gonzalez, heavy duty marketing manager at Hunter Engineering. “If you let the machine do its job, you’ll know you have a perfectly mounted and balanced tire and wheel when you’re done that will minimize rolling resistance due to non-true rotation.”
Author: Ronald Montoya
February 2008, the owner of a 1998 Ford Explorer in Georgia needed a new tire for his SUV and ended up buying a used one. When he was driving two weeks later, the tread suddenly separated from the tire. The Explorer went out of control and hit a motorcycle, killing its rider. An analysis of the used tire revealed that it was nearly 10 years old.
More recently, an investigation into the cause of the accident that killed the actor Paul Walker revealed that the Porsche Carrera GT in which he was riding had nine-year-old tires. The California Highway Patrol noted that the tires age might have compromised their drivability and handling characteristics, according to the Los Angeles Times.
These incidents illustrate not only the potential danger of buying used tires but also the perils of driving on aging tires — including those that have never spent a day on the road.
For years, people have relied on a tire’s tread depth to determine its condition. But the rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread. An old tire poses a safety hazard.
For some people, old tires might never be an issue. If you drive a typical number of miles, somewhere around 12,000-15,000 miles annually, a tire’s tread will wear out in three to four years, long before the rubber compound does. But if you only drive 6,000 miles a year, or have a car that you only drive on weekends, aging tires could be an issue. The age warning also applies to spare tires and “new” tires that have never been used but are old.
What Happens to a Tire as It Ages?
Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., compares an aging tire to an old rubber band. “If you take a rubber band that’s been sitting around a long time and stretch it, you will start to see cracks in the rubber,” says Kane, whose organization is involved in research, analysis and advocacy on safety matters for the public and clients including attorneys, engineering firms, supplier companies, media and government.
That’s essentially what happens to a tire that’s put on a vehicle and driven. Cracks in the rubber begin to develop over time. They may appear on the surface and inside the tire as well. This cracking can eventually cause the steel belts in the tread to separate from the rest of the tire. An animation on the Safety Research & Strategies Web site shows how this happens. Improper maintenance and heat accelerate the process.
Every tire that’s on the road long enough will succumb to age. Tires that are rated for higher mileage have “anti-ozinant” chemical compounds built into the rubber that will slow the aging process, but nothing stops the effects of time on rubber, says Doug Gervin, Michelin’s director of product marketing for passenger cars and light trucks.
How Long Does a Tire Last?
Carmakers, tire makers and rubber manufacturers differ in their opinions about the lifespan of a tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging and defers to the recommendations of carmakers and tire manufacturers. Carmakers such as Nissan and Mercedes-Benz tell consumers to replace tires six years after their production date, regardless of tread life. Tire manufacturers such as Continental and Michelin say a tire can last up to 10 years, provided you get annual tire inspections after the fifth year.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association says there is no way to put a date on when a tire “expires,” because such factors as heat, storage and conditions of use can dramatically reduce the life of a tire. Here’s more on each of these factors.
Heat: NHTSA research has found that tires age more quickly in warmer climates. NHTSA also found that environmental conditions like exposure to sunlight and coastal climates can hasten the aging process. People who live in warm weather and coastal states should keep this in mind when deciding whether they should retire a tire.
Storage: This applies to spare tires and tires that are sitting in a garage or shop. Consider how a spare tire lives its life. If you own a truck, the spare may be mounted underneath the vehicle, exposed to dirt and the elements.
If your spare is in the trunk, it’s as if it is “baking in a miniature oven,” says Dan Zielinski, senior vice president of public affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Most often, the spare never sees the light of day. But if the tire has been inflated and mounted on a wheel, it is technically “in service,” even if it’s never been used, Gervin says.
A tire that has not been mounted and is just sitting in a tire shop or your garage will age more slowly than one that has been put into service on a car. But it ages nonetheless.
Conditions of use: This refers to how the tire is treated. Is it properly inflated? Has it hit the curb too many times? Has it ever been repaired for a puncture? Tires on a car that’s only driven on the weekends will have a different aging pattern than those on a car that’s driven daily on the highway.
All these factors contribute to how quickly or slowly a tire wears out.Proper maintenance is the best thing a person can do to ensure a long tire life. Gervin recommends that you maintain proper air pressure in tires, have them rotated regularly and have them routinely inspected.
How To Determine the Age of a Tire
The sidewall of a tire is full of numbers and letters. They all mean something, but deciphering them can be a challenge. This Edmunds article about reading a tire’s sidewall goes into greater detail, but for the purposes of determining the age of a tire, you’ll just need to know its U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number.
Tires made after 2000 have a four-digit DOT code. The first two numbers represent the week in which the tire was made. The second two represent the year. A tire with a DOT code of 1109 was made in the 11th week of 2009. Tires with a three-digit code were made prior to 2000 and are trickier to decode. The first two digits still tell you the week, but the third digit tells you the year in the decade that it was created. The hard part is knowing what decade that was. Some tires made in the 1990s (but not all) have a triangle after the DOT code, denoting that decade. But for tires without that, a code of “328” could be from the 32nd week of 1988 — or 1978.
Clearly, these DOT numbers weren’t designed with the consumer in mind. They were originally put on tires to make it easier for NHTSA to recall tires and keep track of their manufacturing date.
To make matters worse, you might not always find the DOT number on the outer side of the tire. Because of the way a tire is made, it is actually safer for the technician operating the mold to imprint information on the inner side of the tire, so some manufacturers will opt to put the number there. It is still possible to check the DOT code, but you might have to jack the car up to see it. Keep the visibility of the DOT number in mind the next time you are at a tire shop and the installer asks if you want the tires to be mounted with the raised lettering facing in.
That potential inconvenience is going away, however. NHTSA says that the sidewall information about the tire’s date of manufacture, size and other pertinent data is now required to be on both sides of the tire for easier reading.
After checking out a tire’s birth date, give the rubber a visual inspection. Some of the best advice on such an inspection comes from the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association. It recommends that consumers check tires regularly for any sign of aging, such as tread distortion or large or small hairline cracks in the sidewall. Vibrations or a change in the dynamic properties of the tire could also be an indicator of aging problems, the association says. It recommends replacing the tire immediately if such symptoms appear.
Don’t Buy Used
Tires are expensive, especially when you factor in the price of mounting and balancing. That’s why used tires become more attractive to consumers who are strapped for cash. But the purchase of used tires is very much a buyer-beware situation, Zielinski says. “Even a one-year-old tire can be dangerous if it was poorly maintained,” he says.
When a consumer buys a used tire, he has no idea how well it was maintained or the conditions in which it has been used. The previous owner might have driven it with low pressure. It could have hit curbs repeatedly. It could have been patched for a nail. Further, it’s a dated product.
“You wouldn’t want a used tire for the same reason that you wouldn’t buy a 10-year-old computer,” Zielinski says. “You are denying yourself the advancements in tire technology over the past few years.”
Make Sure You’re Getting a “Fresh” Tire
Just because a tire is unused doesn’t mean it’s new. In a number of instances, consumers have purchased “new” tires at retail stores only to find out later that they were manufactured years earlier. In addition to having a shorter life on the road, a tire that’s supposedly new but is actually old may be past its warranty period.
If you buy tires and soon after discover that they’re actually a few years old, you have the right to request newer ones, Zielinski says. Any reputable store should be willing to make amends. “It is fair for a consumer to expect that ‘new’ is not several years old,” he says.
Getting rid of an unused spare or a tire with good-looking tread may be the hardest thing for a thrifty consumer to do. “Nobody’s going to take a tire that looks like it’s never been used and throw it out,” Kane says. But if it’s old, that’s exactly what the owner should do.
Although Kane has lobbied NHTSA to enact regulations on tire aging, nothing is currently on the books. A NHTSA spokesman says the organization is “continuing to conduct research into the effects of tire aging, and what actions consumers can do to safely monitor their tires when they are on their vehicles.”,
It’s too bad that tires don’t have a “sell by” date, like cartons of milk. Since there’s no consensus from government or industry sources, we’ll just say that if your tire has plenty of tread left but is nearing the five-year mark, it’s time to get it inspected for signs of aging.
Of all your vehicle’s components, tires have the greatest effect on the way it handles and brakes. So if the tire store recommends new tires at your five-year check-up, spend the money and don’t put it off. Your life could depend on it.
On October 21 – 23, 2014 at Indiana Convention Center, RunSure held an exibit at the IFDA 2014 Distribution Solutions. Tony (Dr. Fleet) Vercillo was on-hand. The Distribution Solutions Conference is designed for distributors and manufacturers in the foodservice and convenience industry.
The International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) works to help our foodservice distributor members succeed. Our primary constituents are foodservice distributors and are found across North America and internationally. They include leading broadline, system, and specialty distributors.
Missed the IFDA Convention? No Problem! Check out Tony “Dr. Fleet” Vercillo’s presenation titled: The Supply Chain as a Competitive Weapon.
Click this link view the Presentation, Operational Roundtable: The Supply Chain as a Competitive Weapon by Dr. Tony Vercillo from the IFDA 2014 Distribution Solutions Conference.
Listen to Tony “Dr. Fleet” Vercillo describe the methods required to procure and retain drivers.