Jim Sharkey, senior director of global sales & marketing, and Al Cohn, director of new market development & engineering support, at P.S.I. offer some insight into how big rig operators can take better care of their truck and trailer tire and thus avoid potential blowouts while on the road.
What are the most common causes of tire failures while on the road?
Slow leaking punctures in the tread will lead to a loss of air and eventual tie failure. Under-inflated tires are more susceptible to punctures because the footprint becomes longer and the rubber becomes hotter and softer picking up punctures more readily.
Impact breaks from hitting curbs and running over objects and sidewall damage also lead to failure.
What are some of the visual ‘warning signs’ that appear when a tire is at a higher risk for a road failure?
Low tread depth tires are more susceptible for damage to the tire casing. Punctures and stone holding/drilling will lead to premature tire failures.
How do heat and cold affect tire life?
Keeping the recommended cold tire inflation pressure in the tire will keep tires running cool. Heat is a tire’s worst enemy if not properly inflated.
How can a driver help ensure the tires on the tractors they’ll be operating are good to go and not at risk for failure? What “checklist” of tips can they follow?
The process we recommend is dubbed “fingertip diagnostics.” Check sidewall and tread for cuts, snags, and punctures. Look for signs of irregular wear which lead to premature tire removals.
Maintaining proper tire pressure seems to be bets thing in terms of preventing tire failures on the road. What kinds of technologies can owner-operators and fleets both use to help improve tire pressure maintenance?
Automatic tire inflation systems (ATIS) and tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are the most common solutions, with most trailers now using ATIS.
We think ATIS is the best for keeping tires properly inflated. Air is automatically added while the vehicle is running down the highway whenever the tire pressure drops below the control box setting.
Also, “manual stick” and “dial-type gauges” tend to not be very accurate, usually with only plus or minus three psi [pounds per square inch] brand new accuracy out of the box. That means a 100 psi tire could read 97 or 103 psi, depending on the gauge.
Leaking valve stem cores are also a big problem area for why tires lose air.
Valve cores have a torque value of four-inch pounds. Over and under tightening of valve cores will lead to loss of air. There are valve core torque tools pre-torqued to four-inch pounds which are available in the market.