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Alex Borg

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Jan 30, 2024

11 minute read

Fleet Management Blog

6 Best Practices for Managing Fleet Tires

Effective tire management is so much more than keeping track of tire purchases on a spreadsheet. By setting up a system for managing and tracking tires, you can identify opportunities to reduce costs and improve safety in your fleet.

6 Best Practices for Managing Fleet Tires

Looking to get the most out of your tires? Here are six best practices to enhance your organization’s tire maintenance and management.

1. Set Baseline Expectations and Metrics for Each Tire

If the goal of tire management is to ensure your vehicles are equipped with reliable tires as constantly as possible, identifying what traits a tire needs to have to be considered in acceptable condition can set your operations up for success. When your drivers and technicians are all on the same page as to what makes a tire up to your organization’s standards, they instantly recognize when defective tires need to be serviced or replaced.

Tire pressure

 

To that end, fleets should set a required tire pressure value (in pounds per square inch (PSI)) for every vehicle model they own based on manufacturer recommendations. You can find what PSI the tires of a vehicle should be maintained at by reviewing its owner’s manual or the sticker on the inside of its driver door. For most fleet vehicles, manufacturer-recommended tire pressure levels range between 28 and 36 PSI. By adhering to these recommendations, fleets can maximize their vehicles’ fuel economy and handling while avoiding premature wear and tear of their tires.

Did you know?

For every 10° F change in temperature, tire pressure changes by 1 psi. So next time the weather drops by 40 degrees overnight, you can bet that all your tires are now 4 psi lower than they were the day before.

Tread depth

 

Similarly, it’s in fleets’ best interest to standardize acceptable tread depths as well. For most commercial vehicles, federal law requires a tread depth of 4/32 of an inch for front tires and 2/32 of an inch for all other tires. But because those tread depths are bare minimums for safety (and because individual state laws differ), we suggest that fleets set their own higher standards.

In general, most tire experts regard tread depths of 6/32 of an inch and deeper as optimal, 4/32 of an inch as adequate but worth replacing soon and 2/32 of an inch and below as unacceptably worn down. It’s up to you to decide what tread depth standards your organization will operate by, but keep in mind that tread depth has a direct correlation with braking efficacy (especially in slippery conditions). And when it comes to safety, that difference in braking distance can make all the difference.

Did you know?

On wet or snowy roads, tires with deep treads can come to a stop in 50 feet less than their counterparts with shallower treads.

Ultimately, by defining what metrics your fleet’s tires need to be at before they can hit the road, you eliminate ambiguities that can pose a risk to the safety and efficiency of your operations. Instead of having your personnel make judgment calls as to whether a tire needs attention or not, these metrics establish clear pass-fail tests that ensure tire safety protocols are followed consistently.

2. Perform Regular Inspections

Whether your vehicles plow through snow, traverse dirt roads or contend with hectic city streets, their tires endure a lot every day. To ensure they’re prepared to handle everything roads can throw at them, it’s vital that fleets check how your tires are holding up on a consistent basis.

Daily Inspections

 

Daily pre- and post-trip inspections are a natural opportunity for drivers to visually inspect their vehicle’s tires. As they walk around their vehicle with clipboard or phone in hand, have your drivers closely examine their vehicle’s tires for signs of wear and tear. Indicators of rubber abrasion and degradation like bumps, cracks and cuts should be recorded immediately and addressed as soon as possible.

Monthly Inspections

On a monthly cadence, it’s a good idea to have your technicians measure the tire pressure and tread depth of your tires. With proper training and equipment, both readings should take a negligible amount of time to perform. If they find a tire is lacking in either department (in accordance with your organization’s standards), they can immediately correct the issue by properly inflating the tire or replacing the worn tire with a new one.

By spotting minor tire imperfections early, fleets can avoid productivity-tanking safety problems later on. Simply put, a tire inspection takes mere minutes to perform, while a blowout on the way to a job can lose you an entire day’s worth of work.

3. Enable Your Team to Improve Tire Management

When inspections are your fleet’s primary means of maintaining tire health, it’s vital that they’re done consistently and thoroughly. To ensure that your tires always receive the attention they require, fleets should make tire-related training a core aspect of their driver onboarding.

Training drivers on proper inspections

While tire inspections might seem self-explanatory on paper, the difference between a thorough tire inspection and a slapdash one can be the difference between catching an issue early and a blowout in the middle of a job. To account for that, fleets should never assume that their drivers know how to perform a proper tire inspection on their first day.

Instead, fleets should make sure that any onboard training program they manage includes an in-depth section on what to look for when inspecting tires, how to use tire inspection tools and, importantly, why tire inspections matter. By instilling the connection between tire inspections and safety, drivers are significantly more likely to take them seriously.

Additionally, to ensure tire inspections don’t degrade in thoroughness over time, fleets should consider re-training their drivers on inspection dos and don'ts on a yearly basis. While supplemental training does marginally detract from your personnel’s time in the field, the benefits of more thorough inspections and greater mindfulness behind the wheel are well worth it in the long run.

Providing your team with the necessary tools

Compared to most other kinds of vehicle inspections, your drivers and technicians don’t need much in the way of equipment to conduct effective tire inspections. That being said, if you expect your personnel to assess the health of their tires on a regular basis, it’s imperative that they have constant access to reliable tire inspection tools at all times.

To that end, fleets should strive to have a tire gauge in every one of their vehicles at all times. Even if you only require your drivers to measure the air pressure of their tires once a month (a typical fleet industry practice), always having a gauge on hand enables them to take a reading as soon as they notice something suspicious when in the field. The quicker an underinflated tire’s air pressure is restored, the less fuel you waste and the less premature wear and tear it endures. As a result, even the cheapest and most basic tire pressure gauges can make an appreciable impact on your fleet’s overall tire health.

In the service bay, the better equipped your technicians are, the more effective their tire inspections can be. While there’s nothing wrong with the traditional penny test, dedicated tire tread depth gauges can accelerate technician productivity and enable more accurate readings. While digital gauges are generally regarded as more efficient, plenty of fleets keep their tires in good condition with basic, unpowered tread gauges.

Keep tabs on your fleet’s tires

Tires play a pivotal role in keeping your vehicles reliable, fuel-efficient and safe. With Fleetio, you can track the location, condition and use of every tire you own.

Learn more

4. Track Install and Maintenance Dates/Mileage

The more fleets know about their tires, the better they’re able to stay on top of and anticipate their maintenance needs. So to ensure that useful tire information never ends up forgotten, fleets should record the key details of every individual tire in their fleet. At minimum, fleets should log when they install a tire, how many miles that tire has traveled and every service action performed on that tire.

Having these records on hand makes tracking a tire’s maintenance needs and overall lifecycle much easier. As a rule of thumb, most vehicle manufacturers recommend tire rotations every 5,000-10,000 miles. By keeping track of your tires’ mileage, you can determine when a tire rotation would be appropriate based on data, instead of just instinct.

Additionally, tracking tire install dates makes it easier to know when to replace a tire. Even if a tire isn’t exhibiting any concerning signs of wear and tear, most experts believe that tires ought to be replaced every three to six years. If you know the precise day a tire was installed, you can accurately determine when it should be replaced based on your organization’s formalized practices.

In much the same way that maintaining comprehensive vehicle service histories is well worth the effort, the usefulness of tire service logs can’t be overstated. With accurate and up to date information on every tire you own, you can better ensure that they receive the maintenance they need to perform at their best throughout their entire lifespan.

5. Leverage Historical Data for Purchasing & Budgeting

 

Accurately forecasting your fleet’s needs can be tricky as vehicle issues often feel like they occur at random. But, at least when it comes to tires, fleets can expect some degree of stability. Barring any unfortunate encounters with nails or similar hazards, tires tend to have broadly similar lifespans. As a result, fleets can count on past tire longevity trends to continue moving forward.

By building off how often they’ve purchased and replaced tires in the past, fleet managers can take a more data-backed approach to their tire budgeting. Greater budgeting accuracy from the outset avoids shortfalls and other unpleasant surprises later down the road. And even if your fleet has grown since your data was collected, you can simply extrapolate your findings to account for your current vehicle count. For instance, if your fleet is expected to grow a certain asset type by 25% this year, it’s not unreasonable to expect your tire costs for that asset type to increase at a similar rate.

Additionally, fleets can optimize their tire spend by comparing how different tire brands they’ve purchased have performed. If you find that one brand of tires lasts significantly longer than its counterparts, exclusively buying from that brand in the future could result in meaningful savings. This approach can also apply to different kinds of tires (e.g. all-season versus winter tires). If past data indicates that equipping your vehicles with winter tires during colder months results in fewer tire-related issues (compared to having all-season tires year round), consider making that a standard practice.

Do you need winter tires?

Experts recommend winter tires for fleets that operate in areas where it regularly drops below 45° F. Winter tires do more than help you traverse through snow and ice – they have a special rubber compound that doesn't get brittle in colder temperatures, leading to better overall traction.

6. Adopt a System to Keep Track of Fleet Tires

From recording critical tire information to referencing past tire spending when developing budgets, data is at the heart of effective tire management. And as fleets grow and their tire-related service activities increase in frequency, the harder it becomes to store all of their tire-related data within spreadsheets. Fortunately, Fleetio’s tire management software is up to the challenge.

Example of the new tire management feature in Fleetio

Example of the new tire management feature in Fleetio.

With Fleetio, fleets can track everything they need to know about any tire they own. From the day a tire is installed to the day it’s replaced, you can pull up how many miles it’s traveled and a complete history of the service work it’s received whenever you wish. This makes identifying tires in need of rotation and older tires worth replacing as simple as running a report. And speaking of reports, Fleetio provides fleet managers with the ability to drill down to see the health of a specific tire or pan out to assess the overall health of every tire they own. This all-encompassing visibility allows you to spot individual tires in need of maintenance and track your overall tire spending from the same platform.

Additionally, organizations that use tire pressure monitoring systems can use Fleetio to observe the conditions of their tires in real-time. So instead of only working with what was reported during a tire’s most recent inspection, you can view a tire’s PSI, temperature and other details anytime you like. This additional monitoring can help notify technicians back at base the second a tire issue arises while out in the field, which can improve response times.

All together, the comprehensive and anytime, anywhere visibility provided by tire management software allows fleets to make more informed budgeting decisions, minimize unplanned downtime and, most importantly, enhance driver safety.

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Thousands of organizations across countless industries rely on Fleetio to manage their fleet activities. No matter the size of your fleet, Fleetio can help you track, analyze and improve your operations.

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About the Author


Alex Borg

Alex Borg

Content Marketing Specialist

Alex Borg is a Content Marketing Specialist at Fleetio. Beyond writing, his interests include going to concerts, playing guitar, and hanging out at the beach.

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