The first thing that comes to mind when many people think of a commercial truck tire is the image of a tire carcass on the side of the freeway, a giant remnant of an 18-wheeler's day at the office. These unsightly chunks of tires, known in the trucking industry as road alligators, are the aftermath of tire failure.
That is not to say these tires are bad or weak, but a road alligator more accurately reflects the paces these tires experience over the long haul. Industrial strength or super duty would be adjectives used to describe tires that go through chronic extremes on a daily basis. Tires used in commercial applications experience just such chronic extremes.
Because these tires exposure to the elements is extreme, they need robust construction and engineering. In the simplest terms, that means at least four steel belts, dual compound tread rubber, engineering considerations for tire wear, stone retention, water evacuation, traction, heat, and weight distribution.
When it comes to tire construction, only tire manufactures and engineers might know some of the following terms but, they're useful for a fleet manager if, for nothing else, to keep turned in to what's being discussed:
are the main words to use when delving into the construction of tires. Check our Tire Glossary for a definition to get you started. No matter the amount of deliberation put into tire construction for commercial applications, tires will inevitably fail.
A trucker might tell you, "You can't get a good tire for your money these days." Fleet managers, however, quickly learn that the driver has a lot to do with what he or she will get out of their tires.
Heat is the enemy of tires. The number one way to keep tires from overheating is to make sure tire inflation is spot-on and set to compensate for the load and the speed. That means drivers need to take heed when it comes to putting the petal to the metal. Traveling faster than the tire is designed for will drastically reduce the life of the tire.
Other major issues with getting the most out of commercial tires are constant maintenance and attention to detail when it comes to road hazards. Avoiding potholes and not hitting curbs or other debris on the roadways will increase the life of the tires.
As part of a plan to keep equipment in good working order, tires must be included. There is a simple method for keeping commercial truck tires in tiptop shape. Inflation of the tire cannot be reiterated enough. INFLATION is the most important thing to check. Some of the best-maintained fleets require a driver to manually inspect every tire on the vehicle they drive at the start of every day as a minimum.
To check inflation use a calibrated air gauge regularly, adjust the pressure for the load and conditions, inspect the tires for damage or nail penetrations, make sure the valve caps are on tight, and always check the insides of the duals.
Once the right commercial truck tire is placed in service, maintaining the tire and paying attention to road hazards will be the best defenses against the dreaded alligators. All truckers know alligators cause nothing but lost time and money.
Visit Tire Information World's Exclusive Tire Care and Accessories Store.