By Jim Park
Tire service providers and retreaders can be a great source of failure analysis if the unit number and wheel position are tracked. Photos: Jim Park
It’s said that dead men tell no tales. Dead tires, however, sure do. Ignore them, and you do so at your expense. Since tires rarely self-destruct, there is always a smoking gun, and it’s in your best interest to find it. You do that through failure analysis.
An expert can tell at a glance what’s happening to a tire, often by just looking at it or rubbing a hand over the tread face. Tire wear, you see, isn’t the tire’s fault. There’s something wrong with the truck that’s aggravating the situation. You must fix that to arrest the tire wear. So where do you start?
If you do not have the luxury of an in-house expert, a service provider can probably help. Jeff Lecklider, president of Gem City Tire in Dayton, Ohio, performs that service for dozens of fleet customers.
“We work with the customer to help them to reduce their tire costs, and we usually start with a fleet survey,” he says. “We’ll give them a baseline of the condition of their fleet, including tread depth, air pressure, any tire conditions, irregular wear, flat tires, etc., and then we recommend a course of action. We do this regularly so we can spot problems as soon as they become visible.”
Various mechanical problems leave telltale signs on tires. Take cupping and scalloped wear on a steer tire. That’s usually caused by some non-uniformity in the tire/wheel assembly, such as non-concentric mounting or a moderate to severe out-of-balance condition. Feathered wear on a steer tire is another easy one – it’s a sign of misalignment. But which misalignment condition? Here you might need to dig a little deeper. It could be an