Is Your Fleet Ready For Winter?

First off, you’ll probably find tires with tread depths that are pretty low. If you find tires on the steer or drive axles that have less than 7/32nds, you might want to replace them with tires that will provide ample tread rubber to cut through snow, channel water, and provide the traction needed to stop and accelerate in arctic conditions.

If pressures or diameters have not been matched on dual tires, you may find a lot of irregular wear. Move these tires to other positions on the tractor or trailer to run these out or use them as spares depending upon their conditions. Then properly match dual tire diameters and air pressures within 2 psi of each other to keep the tires in even, solid contact with the pavement.

If your fleet has tractors with tandem axle drives, you’ll find that the rear drive axle tires are much more worn than the forward drive axle tires. If the wear on a tractor’s rear drive tires is more than 4/32nds than the wear on the forward tires, you should rotate the tires from the rear drive axle to the forward drive axle. This will even out their wear. The tires on both of the tandem drive axles must be closely matched to safeguard the differential and prevent excessive slip, loss of traction and uneven wear.

Odds are good that some tires were replaced during the summer and you may find that certain tires have more tread than others. The diameters of the four drive tires on a single axle drive tractor should be matched within 1/4” or less across the axle. Twin–screw drive axles require all eight tires be matched so that the average diameter on one axle is no more than 1/4” different from the average diameter on the other axle. If tires do not mate within these tolerances, it may be necessary for you to replace the whole set. Properly mating tires will help prevent spinning on ice with the drive axles fighting each other and will get the freight delivered on time.

If tractors are out of align, you may find shoulders worn off steer tires and even the drive tires depending upon the alignment condition. Don’t forget to check the trailer tires too. Worn shoulders on these tires indicate misalignment also. Proper vehicle alignment of both the tractor and the trailer not only improves fuel economy and tread wear, but also could be a lifesaver when the vehicle travels on snow, slush or ice. Even a minor misalignment condition could reduce the driver’s ability to control his rig in bad weather. Have your vehicles aligned as soon as possible to make sure the tires contact the road properly to get the best traction possible and ensure the vehicle is traveling straight down the road for optimum handling and tread wear.

You will also find tires with cuts, punctures and snags that are just begging to fail on the road at the coldest and nastiest moment imaginable. Get these tires properly repaired as soon as possible.

While you’re out there checking tires, make sure that all tires have metal valve caps installed on all valve stems. Their job is to keep dirt, snow and ice from getting in the valve and fouling the valve core, which causes leaks. And check to ensure all tires are inflated to their proper pressure. This will prevent a lot of irregular wear and help make your tires runs longer. Also, properly maintain tire pressures in the winter months. When tire pressures change, tire footprints change as well and this will affect tire traction and vehicle handling.

If you have TireVigil™ Cloud, you don’t have to leave your office to check your tires’ pressures any time. TireVigil™ Cloud enables you to pull a vehicle up in the TireWatch app and see the pressure in all of its tires. Since it converts hot pressure to cold inflation pressure you can easily tell if tire pressures are correct or not and take the appropriate action recommended by this innovative system. With dropping temperatures, it will be necessary to increase your tires inflation pressures at this time of year. TireVigil™ Cloud provides you with the visibility you need to handle this job correctly and without guesswork.

Don’t forget to check the condition of the tire chains or cables on each power unit if they travel in states that require traction aids on snowy or icy roads. Many fleets forget to do this and drivers don’t realize their chains are broken or missing until they go to pull them out to put them on. In many states, if trucks don’t have tire chains or cables installed for hazardous, winter road conditions, they are shut down on the spot. In Colorado, if a vehicle is not carrying chains in the winter months, it will be shut down until chains are obtained, even if they are not required at the time.

We are your tire experts, so why not give us a call and we can discuss strategies for simplifying your tire maintenance program using TireVigil™ Cloud throughout the year. Always looking out for your tire’s best performance and vehicle safety.

Here’s a real news flash: Winter is coming! Do you know you should winterize your fleet for optimum and safe tire performance? Your trucks are going to be plowing down the nation’s highways in hail, sleet, slush, and snow even when you decide it’s too miserable to venture out of your house. If you want your equipment to operate properly in this harsh weather, it’s imperative that their rubber meets the road. It if doesn’t, you’ll find you’ve got toboggans not trucks!

With the hot weather over, it’s time to take a really good look at your fleet’s tires. The summer may have taken a toll on them. If your tires weren’t as well maintained as they should have been, you’ll find all kinds of ugly things now that may result in increased tire service costs and enroute delays.  

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