Vehicle operating cost is a major consideration for drivers each and every day, even more so for fleets. Yokohama Tire Corp. shares special tips for fleet managers to save money, optimize tire energy efficiency, and maximize tire service life for their companies' passenger car fleets.
A monthly tire inspection should be part of every fleet’s maintenance routine and should include a complete visual and physical inspection of all tires on the vehicle and an air pressure check.
When drivers conduct each monthly visual inspection, ensure they get down low enough to see the entire tread area to detect uneven wear (which is a sign of alignment and/or suspension problems or improper inflation). Additionally, running a hand over the tread area can help drivers identify the onset of “cupping,” “feathering,” or other uneven wear.
Next, drivers should be instructed to check the air pressure of all tires on the vehicle. Fleets can lower fuel costs, get thousands of additional miles out of tires, and improve air quality by maintaining correct tire inflation pressure. It is also important to check the air pressure of a vehicle’s spare tire (if the vehicle is equipped with one).
If a driver’s inspection or air pressure check reveals any potential issues, it is important to have them addressed as soon as possible. Mechanical wear on tires or uneven wear from improper inflation can seriously affect a tire’s usable life.
Knowing the difference between a proper and an improper tire repair could be critical to vehicle safety. An improper tire repair could pose a safety hazard, lower fuel efficiency, and could also affect a tire manufacturer’s warranty.
Often, it takes about the same time to do an improper tire repair as it takes to do a proper repair, so it makes sense to always insist on a proper tire repair from all service outlets.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) offers tire dealers and automotive repair outlets detailed criteria to perform a proper repair. One key process in a proper tire repair is removing a tire from the wheel to inspect any damage that may occur to the inner liner of the tire. Fleet managers should be aware of proper tire repair procedures, including:
- Repairs are limited to the tread area only.
- A puncture injury cannot be greater than ¼ inch in diameter.
- Also, repairs must be performed by removing the tire from the rim/wheel assembly for a complete inspection to assess all damage that may be present.
- Repairs cannot overlap.
- A rubber stem, or plug, must be applied to fill the puncture injury and a patch must be applied to seal the inner liner. (A common repair unit is a one-piece unit with a stem and patch portion. A plug by itself is an unacceptable repair.)
In summary, taking the time to make a thorough tire inspection, quickly addressing any potential problems and insisting on proper tire repairs can pay off in maximum mileage, maximum efficiency and maximum safety for your company’s fleet.
Editor's note: Bob Abram is the product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corp. He has 23 years of experience in tire management and safety. For more information, visit www.yokohamatire.com.