No one likes a flat tire or blowout, no matter what type of vehicle they’re driving. In addition to being inconvenient, blowouts on a tractor-trailer have the potential to cause serious accidents. This is why semi-truck tire maintenance is so essential.
These tips can help you avoid tire failure, improving safety while also helping save you time and money:
1. Always Perform Thorough Pre-Trip Inspections
When it comes to any potential maintenance issue, pre-trip inspections are one of your best tools for preventing problems before they occur. These daily inspections are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and you’ll need to know how to perform one to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Tires are one of the many parts you’ll check during these inspections.
Unfortunately, many drivers get less thorough over time when it comes to pre-trips. Avoid the impulse to “save time” by shortening your daily inspections. Taking a few extra minutes in the morning to make sure your vehicle is in good working condition could save you hours of downtime due to a flat tire, or worse.
2. Check Air Pressure With A Gauge
Some truckers swear they can tell if a tire is underinflated solely based on its appearance. Others may also use a “thump” check. While these can certainly help you catch a seriously underinflated tire, it’s easy to miss a less severe underinflation or overinflation, and these still need to be addressed.
3. Ensure The Tread Isn’t Worn Down
To be safe to drive, your tires need to have enough tread. One trick to check this is to place a penny with Lincoln’s head pointing down in between the tread grooves. If you can see Lincoln’s face, the tire is too worn down. You should also check for any uneven wear on the tires.
4. Rotate Tires Regularly
Just like you rotate tires on a four-wheeler, you need to rotate them regularly on a semi-truck as well to keep tire wear even. There are various methods for determining how often to do this, and if you’re a company driver, there may be a policy in place as a guideline. Otherwise, you should aim to rotate the tires at least once during their expected mileage lifespan, either at the halfway mark or at each quarter mark depending on various factors. Other truckers prefer to rotate based on measuring the difference in tread wear between the tires.
If possible, try to schedule tire rotations during other required maintenance visits. This helps you reduce downtime.
5. Practice Safe Driving
The way you drive impacts how quickly your tires wear down and helps you avoid flats and blowouts over time.
Here are some safe driving tips that can improve the mileage you get out of your semi-truck tires:
- Avoid accelerating too quickly or braking suddenly.
- Maintain a safe speed.
- Be careful around curbs.
Learn Safe Driving Habits at Phoenix Truck Driving Institute
At our CDL school, we teach our students the skills they need to succeed in the trucking industry. This includes going over important safety information and covering key maintenance topics, like how to care for semi-truck tires and how to perform pre-trip inspections.