THE TALES TRAILER TIRES TELL
Say what you will in regard to a tire, yet it won’t deceive you. On the off chance that there are issues with wheel alignment, suspensions, braking or chassis, your tires will be happy to let you know, whether you simply investigate. They will tell you whether they’re being keep running under-or over-swelled. Simply read the wear patterns to locate what’s happening — and correct the issues before they lead to shorter tire life and higher maintenance costs.
Sporadic wear is a unique issue on free-moving axles like trailers and tag or pusher axles. “Trailer tires are on a free-moving hub with no torque connected, and this makes a moderate wear rate. As such, trailer tires are inclined to sporadic wear,” says Roger Best, sales engineering, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.
However generally, trailer tires get short shrift with regards to maintenance.
“The primary purpose behind this is most trailer tires are not permanently connected with particular tractors,” says Brian Buckham, general director, product marketing, Goodyear. “Trailers are regularly dropped to wait to unload and re-loading. This can make an environment in which drivers don’t generally give careful consideration to trailer tires.”
Add to that the fact that trailer tires on the inside of traditional dual assemblies are harder to access than their partner on the outside, Buckham says, and mismatched dual air pressures become likely, leading to mismatched rolling circumferences and wear conditions.
INTERPRETING THE SIGNS
Similarly, as with anything in trucking today, keeping your trailer and tag axle tires in prime condition falls principally to your drivers. A good fleet maintenance program will incorporate proper air pressure for the vehicles and burdens they really convey. Also, matching the right air pressure to the load promotes even wear on trailer tires.
The impacts of under-inflated tires are known, says Phil Arnold, field engineering, customer engineer support, Michelin Americas Truck Tires. In any case, running more air pressure than required can advance uneven wear also.
To catch trailer and label tire wear, ensure your driver’s is doing something other than looking at tires and pounding them with a stick. Amid their everyday tire examination, drivers ought to:
keep up appropriate tire pressure;
screen tread depths;
look for sporadic wear and tire conditions; and
investigate suspension parts.
“Worn trailer tires provide visual clues that there may be an issue with trailer suspensions, shock absorbers, worn bushings, loose U-bolts, broken suspension parts, locked brakes and other problems,” Arnold explains. “If those problems are present, tires will present signs of uneven wear, including dog tracking, cupping, flat spotting, and camber. Other visual signs include sidewall cracks, tire separation, bulges, cuts, cracks, anything sticking out of the tire. Irregular wear will also develop if tires are not mounted properly and uniformly. Bent wheels, improper mounting, or flat-spotting can cause excessive runout.”
Drivers should be particularly alert for wear patterns on the tread of tires. With a little training, drivers can easily alert maintenance that a suspension or alignment issue is developing before it gets out of hand. And any time the truck is in the shop, technicians should be watching for these telltale signs as well.
“Typical trailer tires will show shoulder wear, diagonal wear and rib punch wear,” says Best. “These wear patterns typically result from maintenance issues such as not maintaining proper inflation, fifth wheel alignment and greasing.”
For starters, remember that trailers that run loaded a majority of the time historically experience less erratic or irregular wear issues. Empty, light trailers have a tendency to “bounce” when going down the road. Every time that tire bounces, it loses footprint contact with the road surface and can actually “skip” when traveling. This
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