Preventative maintenance is a whole lot more than simply performing regular services on your vehicles. It really is a state of mind, where you are constantly checking for conditions and indications that could prove costly to the well being of your fleet. Whether your drivers have a specified checklist each day/week or not, there is still the opportunity to visually inspect vehicles on a regular basis; catching little problems before they turn into big ones.
Tires are a great indicator of issues your vehicle may be experiencing (bad alignment, poor fuel economy, unstable handling, etc.). Likewise, they can also cause a lot of problems when not in the proper condition - posing a safety hazard for both the operator and the company wallet. Here are some quick tire tips to keep your fleet riding smoothly:
Choosing the Right Pressure Setting your tires to the wrong pressures can cause irregular wear, cut down on your gas mileage, and significantly affect the overall handling of a vehicle.
The vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure (found in the owner's manual or via a sticker on the driver's side doorjamb) is what you are looking for. It might be easier to just look at the rating on the tire itself, but that is not the best option. Also, be sure that tires on the same axle are inflated to the same pressure. Otherwise, the car's weight distribution will be askew.
Adjusting Based on Conditions You have probably heard that the best way to tackle sloppy conditions is by letting some air out of those tires. After all, it worked back in your bicycle riding days! In actuality, lowering the pressures well below the recommended settings will cause the tread pattern to close up - essentially leaving the rain/snow/mud with no escape route. That can make things very slippery.
When towing or carrying a maximum load, the general rule of thumb is that you can increase set pressures 4-6 psi. Also, if you intend to do mostly high speed interstate driving, going 3-6 psi over is acceptable.
Checking Pressure Regularly It is important to check your tires about once a month for pressure changes and abnormal wear. The best time to do this is when tires are cold - either first thing in the morning or 30 minutes after driving.
A slight decrease in psi should be expected over the period of a month. However, if you experience a more substantial drop in pressure, there could be a leak.
Monitoring Uneven Tire Wear Wear pattern is indicative of how the vehicle rides. If you find that the middle of the tire is worn more than the rest, your pressures are too high. If the edges have more wear, then they are too low.
Also keep an eye out for flatspots, or patches of concentrated scrubbing. This is typically caused by locking up the wheels on braking and can eventually lead to more severe issues, including an unexpected blowout.
Stay tuned for more helpful tips. Thanks for reading the Fleetio Blog!