I recently talked with a commercial truck tire dealer who was complaining that the trucking industry seems to be changing.
When his technicians are called to replace a tire on the road, they have to put on a new tire. But if the tire is on a dual position, it won't properly match dimensionally with its worn mate.
In the past, he would advise his fleet customers that both tires should be replaced, but now-a-days more and more carriers are telling him to replace just one tire, forget about the other, and get the vehicle back on the road as fast as possible.
With the summer heat upon us, tire-related en-route breakdowns are spiking, and he was wondering what is going on that is making fleets forget about proper tire matching and what information can he supply to these customers to convince them that both tires must be replaced.
There are several things happening in the trucking industry that are affecting how truckers maintain their tires.
Driver hours-of-service regulations require that time for en-route breakdowns be deducted from drivers' available driving time, and e-commerce has put pressure on all fleets to deliver their goods quicker.
Today freight haulers have no time for en-route delays but when they happen, they want quick fixes that get the trucks back on the road as soon as possible. So their mindset is to just slap a new tire on and "let 'er roll!"
Many small fleet operators that make up the majority of the trucking industry do not have people on staff who know the nuances of proper tire maintenance.
This is especially true for the growing number of third-party logistics companies (3PLs), which provide one or many of a variety of logistics-related services that include public warehousing, contract warehousing, transportation management, distribution management and freight consolidation.
Many do not own a truck, and some that do may not have a maintenance department or vehicle maintenance personnel.
In many instances you are talking with a person in dispatch or operations whose only knowledge of tires is that they are black and round and flat on the bottom.
Many cognitive fleets require that any tire they buy on the road be a steer tire. That way when a vehicle comes back to the yard with a steer tire in the wrong place like on a drive or trailing axle, they can readily see it and replace it with the correct type of tire and properly match it to its dual mate.
However, that still does not address the situation in which a new steer tire with 19/32nds-inch tread depth is matched with a worn trailer tire that has 2/32nds of tread.
The worst case is when a truck has a new drive tire with a tread depth of 30/32nds installed on the road that is mated with a worn tire that has 2/32nds of tread.