Truck fleets need a proactive tire maintenance and preparation plan to prevent skidding, hydroplaning, blowouts and high fuel costs during the cold season. Maintenance costs are offset by preventing even more expensive problems from developing. This includes expensive accidents on the road that can incur legal fees in addition to costly repairs and medical bills.
Truck Tire Maintenance in Winter
Inspection and tire maintenance reduces the many hazards that exist when it gets cold. Snow, rain, sleet and black ice make the road conditions especially dangerous. However, trucks are often put on a schedule that reflects ideal conditions. This is unrealistic, and it imposes a dangerous type of pressure on the driver who is just trying to deliver loads on time. Any defects in the wheels can increase the risk of expensive and potentially deadly truck accidents.
Here is a quick summary of the basic tire maintenance procedures necessary for winter safety:
1. Tire pressure involves checking to ensure that neither over-inflation or under-inflation occurs.
2. The wheels need to be inspected regularly so that any cracks are detected, lug nuts are tightened and dual-tire alignments are confirmed.
3. Tread depth is regulated by the Department of Transportation, and DOT inspection checkpoints may confirm that the tread depth meets the minimum standards for road safety.
Tire pressure, or PSI:
The tire pressure is checked by using a proper tire gauge. Correct inflation levels increase the safety and longevity of the wheels. It also improves fuel efficiency and prevents irregular wear and tear. The correct tire pressure is determined by the recommended level of inflation for the specific truck load. This ensures that each tire can grip the road even when adverse road conditions are present. Drivers should always check the inflation tables for the truck load and keep the tire manufacturer’s product data charts nearby for reference.
Cold weather affects the tire’s PSI levels. The tire pressure can change by up to three PSI for every 10 degrees in temperature change. When the temperature rises, the tire pressure tends to increase; when the temperature drops, the tire pressure tends to decrease. The effect of under-inflated truck tires can be serious because it increases the stopping distance needed, and the driver might be unaware of why it takes longer to stop.
Truck tire tread:
Truck fleet service providers always check on the tread of the tires to ensure that proper traction with the road is maintained. Roads and highways usually receive snow and ice during the cold months, so truck fleet owners need to prepare for this reality. Hydroplaning can lead to serious accidents; harsh conditions make it more likely when the roads change from black ice to sleet or slush.
The DOT inspection will cover a range of issues including truck tire maintenance. This includes tread measurement protocols, which measure the lowest depth area of each tire. Any flat spots can cause the truck’s tire to be taken out of commission, for example. Any areas where the tire wears down should be measured before arriving at the DOT inspection stop.
The proper tread depth for steer tires is 4/32 and 2/32 for all other tires. However, cold conditions require adjustment to this standard. During the cold season, the tread depth should never fall under 6/32 to avoid sliding, hydroplaning and increased stopping distances. The tread depth for winter also affects the stability of the rig. This can drive up the fuel costs if the tires wear down.
Maintain and check the tire alignment for each pre-trip inspection to avoid compromising the vehicle’s traction, performance and safety. The snow, ice and other road conditions can kick debris into the areas and gaps between wheels. This can increase vibration and shaking; it can even lead to steering problems and unevenly worn tires. Always check for debris in the wheel components during each pre-trip and post-trip inspections for the entire fleet.
Proactive Maintenance for Winter Fleet Service
Awareness of how the winter weather affects truck tires is essential for any good preventative strategy and winter tire maintenance plan. The cold will cause the tire presser to lower dramatically. Other winter problems include flat spots, ice-caked rims and frozen hubs. Low tire pressure can add to this list and cause serious road hazards. Ensure the tires are properly maintained in order to improve performance and safety while lowering the fuel costs of operating the rig in the winter.