Tires are one of the most important pieces of equipment on your truck. They are quite literally the rubber that meets the road. Without good tires, you’re not going anywhere. Despite this, tire issues are often some of the easiest for drivers to overlook.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), tire issues resulted in over 14% of all out of service violations from roadside inspections in FY2016. The biggest culprit being tires that were either flat or had an audible air leak.
Being forced out of service right in the middle of a run is costly. But it could be even worse if one of those unnoticed tire issues turns into a major blowout on a busy highway. That could lead to a damaged load, wreck, or even a fatality. That’s why it’s so important to take your time to give a thorough inspection to your tires before you hit the road and every time you pick up a trailer.
During those inspections be sure to check for the following:
By regular I, of course, mean the even tread wear that tires incur during standard use. Measure tread depth to ensure that you are above the minimum. In fact, at Nussbaum, we encourage our drivers not to wait for the tire to hit the minimum DOT level before getting them changed. Why? Because changing the tire a little early can save money by allowing our vendors to possibly recap the treads. Also, this helps to ensure a clean inspection which keeps our trucks in service.
It is especially important to take action when you notice uneven or abnormal wear patterns in your treads. This can mean bigger issues either with tire balancing, mismatched sizing, or even suspension issues.
Low pressure is the main cause of blowouts. Be sure to regularly check pressures with a gauge and often with a hammer or other type of thumper.
Cuts and Tread Separation
Check for any cuts or bulges in the sidewalls or any sign of tread separation. These issues can definitely result in a blowout and also account for over 2% of OOS violations in the FMCSA’s FY2016 report.
It is very unlikely that you could ever check your tires too often. Taking a look at your tires every time you get out of the tractor or pass by your rig is a great way to reduce your risk of a blowout or failed inspection. One way to help turn this into a habit is to keep a hammer and pressure gauge beside your seat. Then you can quickly and easily access them each time you climb out.