In today’s fuel-conscious world, tire pressure monitoring is a priority for those who earn their living moving freight across America. However, at the same time, long hauls, scheduling pressures and other challenges make it all too easy to ignore this critical issue which impacts both safety and expenses.
Both over-inflation and under-inflation change the amount of contact with the road to an adverse degree. It is not simply a matter of fuel consumption and tread wear. When an improperly inflated tire encounters severe potholes or road debris, the possibility of damage increases. Under-inflation is a root cause of many a mishap or loss. When psi drops, belts flex more, and this generates more heat, and any tire failures are related to excess heat buildup. At the same time, over-inflation may add to the severity of tread cuts and sidewall damage.
According to a post in the Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ), 20-percent under-inflation can result in a tire wearing out 25-percent more quickly. It also increases fuel consumption approximately 1.5 percent.
To optimize tire pressure and tire performance, it is ideal to vary pressure in accordance with changing loads. When a fleet manager sets a general target psi, there is a danger of tire pressures extending beyond acceptable ranges. Tire pressure on a truck carrying a heavy load can quickly fall 10-20 percent below manufacturer’s recommendations.
Just as loads are not static, tire temperatures are not either. In fact, tire pressure can increase approximately one psi for every five-degree temperature increase. Therefore, to get an accurate assessment of current psi, it is important to let tires cool off when the rig pulls in for a tire pressure check. Pressure gauges need to be frequently checked and re-calibrated. There is little to be gained by fine-tuning psi with an inaccurate gauge.
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