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Safety: Check Tire Pressure & Tread Wear

Tire safety saves money and time. Check tire pressure and check tire tread wear regularly. It helps in more ways than one. Protect the driver. Be ready for any season. Save with better fuel economy Increase the tire life span. By keeping a watchful eye over tires, extend not only the life of the tire but the vehicle as well.

Check tire air pressure: Temperature and load play a big part in what the tire pressure PSI (pounds per square inch) should be. Upside to the optimal pressure includes better fuel economy, a longer tire life and better safety on the road. There are several downsides to poor pressure. Ride quality is either bumpier or sluggish. Breaking and steering are not as responsive. Tread wear is uneven. A difference of only 6 psi can lead to tire failure. A reduction of 25% lower tire inflation pressure can lead increate fuel costs by 5%.

It all begins is a base point pressure number. Find it on the tire sidewall. Use this number as the basic street pressure. This is a starting before the truck is loaded. Check the tire pressure while the tires are cold.

Go to the tire manufacture website for ideal pressure for various load sizes. With that number in hand, load the truck up, fill the tank and invite a few passengers along. Get the truck weighted. Scrap yards, landfill dumps and truck stops are several places scales are available. Get the total weight of the truck. Roll up so only the front tires are on the scale. Record the weight. Then weigh the back tires. It is common that the front will carry more weight than the back. Now comes the math. Together the front and back weights should be the same weight as the total truck, or at least very close.  Take the front weight and divide it by two. Take the back weight and divide it by two. These are the individual weights for each tire. Check the tire maker’s load/inflation tire pressure table. Check the tire pressure for each tire and even them out.

It is time to adjust for temperature. Keeping track of the tire air pressure is all year round task. Check pressure when temperatures go up and down. Colder temperatures decrease psi. Keep in mind tire pressure psi changes one psi for every ten degree drop in temperature.

Check tire tread wear: Tire treads help prevent a vehicle from skidding or hydroplaning. In order to have a safe amount of tread on the tires, the tread must have more than 2/32 of an inch; otherwise the tires on that vehicle need to be traded out for newer ones as soon as possible. The FMCSA regulation is says: “A vehicle does not pass an inspection if it has one of the following defects or deficiencies. …Any tire on any steering axle of a power unit with less than 4/32 inch tread when measured at any point on a major tread groove. …All tires other than those found on the steering axle of a power unit with less than 2/32 inch tread when measured at any point on a major tread groove.”

In order to tell whether or not the tires pass the tread test, you can take a penny and put Lincoln’s head down into the groove of the tread, if looking at it, and his head is still covered up by some tread, the tires are good. However, if Lincoln’s head is clearly visible, it is time to purchase new tires.

There’s also ways to tell what kind of wear the treads of tires are receiving. For instance:

  • Wear down the middle of the tire means that the tires are being over inflated.
  • Wear on the sides, rather than the middle, means that the tires have been under inflated.
  • Wear that has happened only on one side of tire means that the tires need to be aligned to their proper positions.
  • Finally, erratic tread wear, otherwise known as cupping, this can mean the wheel is out of balance, or that the shock absorbers or ball joints need to be replaced.

Watching for how the tread is being worn on a vehicle can help tell what is going on with the tires.

Things to do: For those who drive vehicles with dual tires, always check to see if some sort of foreign object is hidden between them.  Also, should you start driving and run into a large piece of debris, do not keep driving, rather, find a good place to pull over and stop to check the tires. Replace missing valve caps immediately should one go missing. Remember that a new tire can affect the wear of the older tires. When replacing tires, try to keep the treads even on the front tires and then on the back tires.

Tires are expensive but so is fuel and the truck. Check tire air pressure regularly. Check tire tread wear as well. Make adjustments as needed. Taking these precautions can help lengthen the tire life, increase fuel economy and reduce accidents. Add it up and at the end of the year, operating costs go down and profits go up.

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