Keeping the Rubber on the Road

According to Al Cohn at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Akron, Ohio, you can maximize tire performance and reduce costs by a few simple steps:

* Checking air pressure using a calibrated air gauge. Low air pressure causes irregular wear, reduced fuel economy, reduced casing life, reduced removal mileage and increased puncture frequency. Remember, for safety reasons, never check a hot tire.

* Visually inspecting for road hazard damage, sidewall snags/cuts, sidewall ozone cracking and valve caps.

* Measuring tread depth, checking remove/rotate records and noting the reasons for tire removals.

* Reviewing driver comments regarding tires, such as vibration, pulling, wet traction and snow traction.

Also, Cohn says, watch for the following tire problems:

* Irregular wear is a result of moderate to severe assembly out-of-balance condition, improper rim/ wheel mounting or other assembly non-uniformity. It also can be due to lack of shock absorber control on some suspension types.

* Feather wear is excessive side force scrubbing, resulting from severe conditions of misalignment, such as excessive toe, severe drive axle misalignment, worn, missing or damaged suspension components, bent tie rods or other chassis misalignment.

* Chamfer wear is typical of radial tires in slow-wearing operations. It may vary with tread design and service application.

* Brake skid occurs most often on dolly, trailer and drive tires. It is aggravated by new brakes (high friction, not worn in), an unbalanced brake system, aggressive use of brakes, frozen brakes and driver abuse, such as using only trailer brakes to stop a vehicle. This sometimes is seen on new vehicle drive-aways.

* Tread chunking is caused by tires running over curbs/rails or by severe localized impacts. It is aggravated by hot tires, spread axles, sharp turning and off-road use.

"Always record all tire data in a fleet computer system, such as air pressure, tire conditions and removal reason, then look for performance trends," Cohn advises.