The Dangers of Uneven and Worn Commercial Truck Tires
Updated: May 3
While most motor carriers understand the value of a comprehensive preventative maintenance program, they may not know that driving a commercial vehicle with worn out tires can have multiple dangerous consequences.
There are multiple reasons why your tires could be wearing unevenly. The alignment could be off, tires could be underinflated or overinflated, or tire maintenance is overdue. Irregular tire wear drastically increases the chances of a tire blowout and potential accidents. It's important that you look at the tread wear patterns on your tires whenever you're conducting a pre/post trip inspection.
Inside tire wear can be caused by overloading, misalignment, underinflated tires, faulty shocks, or even loose wheel bearings. This can be avoided by regularly checking air pressure, verifying load weight before hauling, and replacing worn parts as needed. Again, checking the tire wear patterns during your pre/post trip inspections can help identify issues and prevent vehicle malfunctions.
While skidding is more likely to occur in the winter due to icy road conditions, driving behaviors such as over-steering, over-braking, over-accelerating or just plain driving too fast are other common causes of uneven tire wear. Severe inside tire wear may require retreading, but it can sometimes be corrected with a tire rotation.
Spotting this wear and tear can be done with a thorough Pre/Post Trip Inspection. Getting your drivers through training for Pre/Post Trip Inspections, whether for initial training or for refresher training is always a great idea. For a limited time use code ROADCHECK23 for $20 off the purchase of Pre/Post Trip Inspection Training online through DOT University!
Five of the most common dangers associated with uneven worn tires are potential hydroplaning, heat buildup, unsafe handling in snow, air pressure challenges and tire blowouts.
Hydroplaning occurs when water gets between the road and the tire, and is most common during heavy rain storms. The standing water causes the tire to lose its grip on the road and in turn causing the vehicle to lose traction. A worn out tire already has a limited amount of tread making it less effective at directing the water away from the vehicle and regaining traction.
As you are driving, friction is created in the tires causing them to heat up, so the faster a person drives, the more heat is created. The tread of the tire help to cool the tire by allowing air to flow between the grooves. The more the tire has been worn down, the less tread will be present and the more heat will build to unsafe levels and cause the tire can blow out.
Unsafe handling in snow
Many motor carriers use the same snow tires year after year and eventually those tires become worn and are no longer able to provide the additional traction snow tires are designed for. This is especially true if the tires don’t have snipes, or small grooves, that help improve traction. As the grooves are smothered the tire is now limited on the traction which causes significant handling issues, especially in icy or snowy conditions.
Air pressure challenges
The research shows that worn down tires lose air pressure quicker than tires with solid tread depth. When tires are underinflated, the risk of dangerous driving conditions grows significantly. When tires are over inflated there is a significantly higher risk of blowout. The improperly inflated tire cannot grip the road properly, making the vehicle harder to steer and, in turn, have less traction on the road.
A tire with full rubber coverage and strong tread depth is better able to resist punctures and limit blowouts. Once the rubber wears down, there is less material protecting the casings of your commercial truck tires against debris on the road, leading to dangerous blowouts and potential accidents.
Our Front Range Compliance team is here to help you with periodic vehicle inspections, training and any DOT compliance needs your company could come across. Reach out to us and we will help you in any way necessary.
Make sure to check out our online DOT Training platform, DOT University! We currently are offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement, Defensive Driving, and Pre/Post Trip Inspection. In the coming months, we plan on releasing DOT Compliance Essentials and Appendix A.
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