Tires are one of the three main expenses for fleets, along with labor and fuel. Unfortunately, they are often ignored, risking poor fuel economy or accidents caused by damaged or under-inflated tires. Monitoring tires using fleet management software is easy and can save you money by improving fuel economy and maximizing the life of each tire

Tires are also one of the main areas of concern for the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), which often promotes legislation to make sure fleets are not only maximizing fuel efficiency but extending tire life through effective maintenance programs

EPA, FMCSA push for efficient, safe tires

One aspect of the EPAs SmartWay program focuses on fuel-efficient tires, also known as low rolling resistance tires, which are designed to reduce friction and improve overall fuel economy

Fleets that are interested in achieving SmartWay certification and maximizing fuel savings have gained a lot not only from upgrading to low rolling resistance tires, but also monitoring and maintaining tire conditions with tire monitoring systems connected to a fleet management program such as Telogis Fleet™.

The FMCSA is becoming stricter on the overall condition of a vehicle’s tires. For example, a roadside inspection that discovers unsafe tires on a commercial vehicle, including tires with insufficient tread, under-inflation or cuts, are noted against both a fleet’s profile and the driver as well

Why monitor the condition of your tires?

There are several reasons why tires are critical to the safety and efficiency of your fleet:

  • Vehicle safety — Damaged tires (bulging, uneven wear, cracks in the sidewall) are a hazard not just to the driver, but also anyone else on the road. Damaged tires are more vulnerable to bursting. A tire blowout at any speed can cause an accident or, at the very least, an inconvenient breakdown. Preventative maintenance that monitors and replaces damaged tires can save a fleet the cost of unwanted accidents, breakdowns or liability payouts.
  • Saving fuel — Tires that aren’t inflated correctly reduce fuel economy by 0.3% for every one PSI under than the recommended pressure (across all tires). Maintaining correct tire pressure can save up to 3% on fuel, representing a $160 saving per year for each vehicle (based on a van traveling 35,000 miles a year with an average economy of 20MPG, and diesel at $3 per gallon). Proper inflation also reduces carbon emissions by over 1,000 lbs. Underinflated tires wear up to 16% quicker and are the cause of approximately 90% of all tire failure.
  • Reduce tire expense — Properly maintained, serviced and inflated tires last longer, meaning fleet vehicles get the most use from the tires. Accurate monitoring can involve drivers doing pre-trip inspections, the service department regularly reviewing tire condition, and lastly — and most importantly — using fleet management software connected to tire monitoring devices. When tires are being correctly monitored, they are only replaced when necessary, based on an accurate assessment of the tire’s health rather than arbitrary intervals.

Using tire condition monitoring systems

There are various monitoring systems available to fleet managers. These electronic devices are fixed to a vehicle’s wheel and can monitor the main aspects of tire health including low or high pressure, absent valve caps, uneven tire pressure, mismatched height and uneven tire wear

Some devices, such as the Meritor Tire Inflation System, actually take air from a tractor-trailer’s air system and inflate any tire that is low.

Monitoring tires can result in smarter purchases

Using tire monitoring devices in conjunction with fleet management software, such as Telogis Fleet, alerts fleet managers to dangerous or uneconomical tire conditions, and (by reporting on the life-cycle of a tire) allows managers to make more accurate assessments of which tires are providing the best value and which are the most appropriate to buy for a specific vehicle or location the fleet operates in

An automated monitoring system connected to a fleet management software program results in a safer and more profitable fleet that saves relieves drivers, service technicians and fleet managers of the day-to-day burden of constantly checking tire condition