Proper Maintenance Gives Tires New Life

How much money does your company spend on tires? For almost every waste hauling operation, the cost of tires ranks only behind labor and fuel.

When tires fail due to improper maintenance, the equipment cannot produce revenue. Many waste hauling fleets who once made four or five road calls per week for tire failures have reduced the number of failures to one or two per month, simply by introducing a sound tire program.

Daily inspection is critical to a waste hauling operation. When trucks return to the equipment yard, check air pressure levels and tread depths. Remove and repair damaged tires promptly before the tire casing is completely destroyed. A good program starts with the purchase of quality new tires. If your fleet is operating on bias-ply tires and you are having a substantial number of flats, you may want to test radials on several of your vehicles.

Even the wrong tread design could be costly. What works well for one company may not work for you. The haul length, materials used to line the landfill and amount of time your vehicles spend on the road versus off-road and in landfills influence the kind of tread you need.

A quality new radial costs between $300 and $400. If properly protected with daily inspections and timely maintenance, that tire can be retreaded between four and eight times, providing an excellent return for the actual labor needed for the inspection. At about one-third the price of a new tire, a retread delivers comparable wear and dependability along with a warranty comparable to a new tire.

A full-service tire dealer will help you make important decisions, from selecting the right new tire casing to the proper tread design for your operation. A quality dealer should also offer you fleet inspections and out-of-service tire analysis, which can help you determine the cause of failures.

If the size of your fleet is so small that you can't cost-justify assigning anyone from your operation to the tire program responsibilities, you might want to contract with your tire retread supplier for the tire mounting and dismounting duties and daily inspections. If you have all the elements of a tire program in place and are still not satisfied with the results, you should make a special effort to monitor your air pressure levels and chart the data.

Maximizing the return on your tire investment does not necessarily mean running a tire until it is worn smooth. Fleets who pull their tires before the legal minimum tread depth is reached have more casings that qualify for retreading. Since a retread can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of a new tire, it is more economical to preserve as many of the casings as possible. This will also reduce the cost of downtime. Tire industry experts claim that 80 percent of all tire injuries occur in the last 20 percent of the usable tread depth.