What Your 32nds Say About You - Commercial Tire Talk | Semi Truck Repair
Since it was recently National Tire Safety Week, we thought we’d use this week’s post to discuss the all important tread depth of commercial truck tires.
FMSCA and CVSA standards can confuse the common carrier as to what is actually “legal” as far as minimum tread depth goes. FMSCA quotes 4/32nds for the steer axle and 2/32nds for everywhere else; while CVSA’s requirements state that the steer only needs to be at 2/32nds and 1/32nd everywhere else. So who do you listen to? The difference between these two standards can mean either a citation for your fleet and your driver or the expense of a service call and a new tire while your driver sits on the side of the road. Neither option looks good on your business or your bottom line.
Our beginnings are specifically tied to commercial tires. We were experts in tires before we started and while we got our bearings in the service industry. Every member of the leadership team at all of our locations has roots in commercial tire sales and service; so you can be assured that our business has clearly defined opinions on the subject. And though we don’t toot our own horn as often as we probably should, this is one of the topics we could “locomotive” style blast out that our opinion is the one to listen to. Our voice on the matter comes from years of sound experience through the closely monitored tire programs we design and execute for our client partners.
The lower you go on your tires, two things are affected – your ability to stop the 80,000 pound vehicle you are responsible for and the retreadability of the casing. A couple of 32nds on your tire can be the difference between a close call and smashing into the back of the 4 wheeler that cuts your driver off. (Clearly NOT something to take lightly.) Additionally, while some fleets think they are “getting every penny” out of a tire before they send it off to the retread plant, these same maintenance managers and fleet owners are the ones we find complaining that “too many of their tires are ending up as scrap.”
Since stopping distance and traction are things that are so obviously important, we are not going to insult your intelligence by discussing them at length here. If you don’t consider the safety of your drivers and the well being of your equipment as utmost priorities, then you probably shouldn’t be running a fleet anyway.
Retreading however, we will say a few words on. The difference in cost between replacing a tire completely versus pulling it at a agreed upon “removal depth” and having it retreaded is significant. (And that’s an understatement.) Retreading, very literally, extends the life of your tires, giving you a “new” tire again at a portion of the cost. Again and again in fact, until the integrity of the casing is compromised. (The “acceptable” number of times a casing “should” be retreaded is another highly debated topic, but not one we’ll get into in this post.) So while some fleet managers think they’re “getting every penny” out of a tire by wearing it down to the bare minimum acceptable 32nds, they’re actually losing money by shortening the life cycle of the tire.
So what do we recommend? Our opinion is that you shouldn’t go below 4/32nds on ANY position (steer or otherwise) to maximize the life cycle of the tire. Your drivers should be checking their tires at every pre-trip and you should be checking them when they return to the yard. If your company is one that sees drivers picking up and/or dropping trailers at various times throughout the day, then either you or your service provider should be doing a weekly yard inspection and logging these numbers to ensure the safety of your drivers and your equipment, and to maximize the life of the casing.
Do you have a person assigned to manage the tire program in your yard, established pull points for your tires, and agreed upon number of times a casing will be retreaded? Do you wonder if the standards you have set for your fleet’s tires match the application in which they’re being used? To find out if your tires are in alignment with your fleets tire program, contact us here. We’ll stop out – for free – and draft you a report of where your fleets tires are at and what our recommendations are.