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10/29/2012 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Opinion: Lower Your Tire Costs With Proper Inflation

By Rick Phillips

Director, Commercial Sales

Yokohama Tire Corp.

This Opinion piece appears in the Oct. 29 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

It’s no secret that underinflated tires consume more fuel. Given that the price of diesel is rising more often than falling these days, today’s fleet maintenance managers must check tire pressure more regularly — and then actually do something about the results.

Unfortunately, too many fleets have adopted the “horseshoes” mentality, simply putting 100 psi in all tires, all positions, and hoping that — as with the old game of throwing horseshoes at a stake in the ground — just being “close enough” will do the job.

However, that philosophy is costing many fleets money because the tire’s inflation should match the actual load it’s carrying.

Imagine picking a vehicle and releasing the air from an inflated tire. What happens? The wheel drops to the ground. Conversely, when you reinflate that same tire, the wheel, the axle and the truck rise back up. That illustrates the simple fact that it’s not the tire that supports the truck and its cargo — it’s the air inside it.

Now imagine that same vehicle rolling down the highway. When in motion, the average commercial truck tire makes about 500 revolutions per mile. And with every revolution, the sidewalls flex under the load as the tire makes contact with road surface and then relaxes back to its normal, unloaded shape. This flexing process is called “deflection” and means that every tire on the vehicle is flexing and relaxing 500 times per mile. Now, consider 18 tires rolling at 60 mph — equal to one mile per minute — and that’s a staggering 9,000 deflections every minute.

Deflection is, of course, a normal phenomenon that occurs within a tire in motion. All tire companies and their engineers devote a large amount of time, effort, research and development to determine precisely how much and exactly where the tire should flex as it revolves under load.

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