Professional truck drivers must perform a pre-trip inspection each day before they take their tractor-trailer out on the highway. Making sure that the tires on the tractor and trailer are correctly inflated and in safe operating condition is an integral part of the pre-trip inspection.
Trucking companies know of downtime for their rigs. Making sure that the tires on the tractor and trailer are properly inflated is the easiest way to ensure proper tire life and deducting tire failure.
Experts suggest that eyeballing a tire is not an accurate way to predict proper inflation. Using a calibrated air pressure gauge is the only way to make sure the pressure is appropriate for the tire. All tires usually lose pressure. Having an under-inflated tire is a leading cause of premature tire failure.
Drivers should also look for damage to the tread or sidewall area and for unusual patterns of wearing such as tapered tread depth or bald spots.
With under inflation, tires cannot maintain proper shape and become flatter and have less contact with the roadway. As little as six psi under-inflated can lead to a tire failure. Tread life is also substantially reduced with under-inflated tires. The fuel economy can be hurt.
A tire with too much air becomes stiff, and the area is contacting the highway is reduced. Damage from debris or bumps in the roadway is much more likely to damage and overinflated tire. The ride becomes stiffer when the tires are overinflated. However, steering is improved to a point.
Tire Safety Guidelines for Big Rigs
- Tires with 20% less than target air pressure should be considered flat and replaced.
- Wear patterns should be warning signs.
- Dual tires should be inflated to within 10 PSI of each other.
- Pre and post trip inspections should include air pressure checks.
By keeping up with tire pressure and wear, drivers can increase the useful life of the tire, be more fuel efficient and maximize uptime and safety.