Tires can be a large expense, especially if you’re operating a fleet with dozens to hundreds of vehicles. However, you can reduce costs in this area by having proper tire maintenance policies in place. Additionally, ensure that drivers are following best practices when driving and completing vehicle inspections.
Know What You’re Looking For
The first step to having an effective tire program in place is knowing what you’re looking for in a tire. Although they may all look relatively the same, there can be huge differences in performance, durability, and even gas mileage! Determine which features you require for each possible application – Does your fleet stick to the roads, or do they spend a large amount of time in construction lots or on other similarly rough terrain?
Factors like durability, weight, and even weather tolerance can be more or less important to you based on your specific needs – Fleet tires are not a one-size-fits-all expense! The tires you choose should also run in roughly the same size as the stock tire sizing, so their measurements may be a good thing to refer back to when it comes time to purchase your tires. Ensure that the tires not only fit, but that they meet any equipment specs, such as load-carrying requirements, weather tolerance, etc.
Correct Tire Calibration and Alignment
Now that your vehicles have the tires best suited for the job, you’re already a step closer to making the most of their lifespan. Ensuring the tires have been installed and aligned properly is extremely important. Things such as tires being cambered incorrectly can reduce the lifespan of your tires dramatically due to greatly increased tread wear.
Another factor many people forget to account for is load weight versus tire pressure. On the driver’s side door jamb, you can find a load and inflation chart. This chart covers various load weights as well as their corresponding tire pressures. Refer to this whenever you’re loading up – over or under inflated tires can impact not only the tire’s life, but practical performance on the road as well.
Value Versus Cost
While it may seem like simply picking up the cheapest tire in bulk might be the most cost-effective solution for your fleet, this is often far from the truth. Similarly, a set of tires sold at a premium price may not be the best route either. You should be balancing tire cost with any features and benefits they might come with, particularly if those features fall under the scope of tire requirements laid out prior to moving forward with purchasing. Select a cost-effective tire that also offers good performance, durability and life span. You may find that you get the highest value from a mid-priced tire – Keep in mind that by meeting your fleet vehicles’ requirements right off the bat, you are minimizing wear, improving on tire life, and therefore replacing them less frequently. This means you are spending less in the long run!
The 3 Performance Properties
Tires have three primary performance properties: fuel economy, miles to removal, and tear resistance. It used to be that if you wanted tires that excelled in one of those areas, you would have to sacrifice performance in the other two. Due to stricter fuel economy regulations and customer needs, there has been massive improvement in this area. All three performance properties are independent of one another, thanks to evolution in tire design and technology! As time goes on and fuel efficiency regulations continue to become stricter, there will only be more benefits to the end user, such as reduced rolling resistance and further improved fuel economy.
Keep Tire Maintenance Records
It is very difficult to keep track of vehicle maintenance without adequate recordkeeping. Your tire maintenance records should include service dates, tire requirements, and your overall tire maintenance and replacement policy. You should tailor this to your fleet needs – Generic policies pulled from third parties may have adverse effects if you are not addressing your needs directly. Take into consideration any equipment you may be operating or transporting within your fleet vehicle(s), your operating region’s geography, average distance travelled, time on the road and any other factors that may be relevant. This policy should also very clearly outline the specs of the new tires to use when the time comes for replacement.
Another extremely popular method of reducing tire replacement costs is retreading. When a tire reaches the end of its lifespan, you may be able to retread it! This depends on various factors, however, such as the age and condition of the casing. A casing is another term for the worn out tire at the end of its lifespan. Retreading involves buffing the tread off of the casing, and binding a new tread to the surface. Casing condition dictates the number of times this can happen.
If you want to keep on top of your tire performance, scrap analysis is a useful service to use. Any tires that have been removed from service can be brought in for inspection. This inspection is to look for any trends in wear that may be impacting vehicle performance and tire maintenance costs. These things will be reported back to you in-depth. This could reveal issues such as improper tire alignment, poor driving and more. This provides an opportunity to address these issues and re-up your tire efficiency.
Tires are a large expense for any fleet operator. Knowing which tires to use and how to maintain them is beneficial not only for safety reasons, but for financial reasons as well. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time doing your due diligence when deciding on your tire of choice! These are a key part of your fleet vehicles’ operation and should be chosen with care.