If the past few weeks have been any indication, we’re in for a very hot summer. While you should always keep a close eye on your bus and motorcoach tires and inspect them on a pre-trip basis, these hot summer months are a good time to pay a little extra attention as high temperatures and hot roadways contribute to the breakdown of tires and greater opportunities for tire failure.
Luke Loy, a senior mechanical engineer at the U.S. Department of Transportation, is noted for saying, “Tires are made with heat and pressure and they come apart the same way.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Crash Causation Study found that there were tire issues before 1 of every 11 crashes. Those issues included tread separations, blowouts, bald tires and under-inflation.
While you should always follow the original equipment and tire manufacturer’s instructions, here are a few other items you likely need to keep a close eye on:
Low air pressure leads to increased tire temperature and is one of the main causes of blowouts. Know what your tires’ air pressure requirements are and regularly check the air pressure to make sure the level is at the correct standard. Notify maintenance if you observe a tire having problems maintaining air pressure. Remember, under-inflation is generally considered any pressure less than the minimum recommended for the tire load. It’s a good idea to check air pressure when the tire is cold, prior to starting a trip.
Check the condition of tires during a pre-trip inspection by listening for air leaks and looking for signs of uneven wear, sidewall damage and anything out of the ordinary.
Tires with low tread depth are more likely to blow out when striking road debris. Uneven tread wear is often a sign of improper air pressure. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, “The minimum tread depth for a steer tire is 4/32 of an inch on every major tread groove.”
Observe the speed rating of your tires and note that some states now permit speeds that may exceed the speed rating of your tires. The speed rating of your tire is your “speed limit.”
Properly maintaining your tires is not only going to make you safer on the road, but it will help you avoid citations, improve your fuel mileage, help your tires last longer and avoid passenger inconvenience.