Written in partnership with our friends at TIP Group Canada.
All tires are not alike and need to be chosen with application in mind. Like that of a dog sled pack, the Transport Truck is the leader and as such, tire traction is of most importance to ensure safe acceleration, turning or braking. Trailers, however, are the follower, hauling heavy loads (which should be distributed evenly within the unit). To help prevent sidewall flexing or trailer swaying, “Special Trailer” (ST) tires are required which are made stiffer with heavy-duty materials.
Choosing The Right Trailer Tire
- Load capacity: Select tires that can handle the typical weight of your cargo.
- Tires must be selected to carry the GAWR Gross Axle Weight Rating (combined trailer and load for the axle only). Checking the tire manufacturer’s weight capacity and matching the correct air pressure with the load index table will provide safe travel and maximize tire efficiency.
- Size: Specified on the sidewall of the tire which accommodates the wheel size.
- Brand and reputation: Look for tires from reputable manufacturers that have a good track record for quality and performance.
- Tread Patterns: Some have a specialized tread design that provides better traction on wet or slippery roads, while others are designed for better fuel efficiency and longer tread life.
- Tire Type: Ensure you choose the right tire for the right application.
- Highway trailer tires: More fuel efficient with a streamlined tread pattern optimized for high-speed travel on smooth, paved roads. These are more fuel efficient as they have a shallower tread depth and lower rolling resistance, but traction may be reduced on rough or uneven surfaces. They’re heavier from the increased tread height and difference in sidewall and casing construction.
- Regional trailer tires: More durable and resistant to wear. They have a deeper tread pattern which improves traction on short haul routes with stop-and-go driving. They often have reinforced sidewalls to help protect against curb scrubbing in regional service work.
“When choosing trailer tires, it’s important to consider the specific needs and use of your trailer, such as the weight it needs to carry, the terrain and weather conditions it will be used in, and the speeds at which it will be driven” says Anthony Xerri, Commercial Sales Representative at The Tire Terminal. “By considering these factors, you can ensure that you choose the right trailer tires for your specific needs and use, which will help ensure safety, performance, and longevity.”
When To Replace Tires
1. Tread depth: Tire tread helps provide better traction on the road. As the tread wears, the tire’s ability to grip the road decreases. Tire replacement is recommended when the tread is worn to 0.0625 inches/less. Use a tread depth gauge or insert a nickel with the head of Queen Elizabeth II face-down between the tread. If the top of the head on the coin is visible, replace your tires.
2. Age: Over time, tire rubber dries and becomes brittle, leading to cracks and other damage. Most manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years or sooner, regardless of tread depth.
3. Damage: With any visible tire damage, such as bulges, cuts, or punctures, take your trailer to a TIP location near you for inspection and possible replacement.
4. Driving conditions: If you frequently drive in harsh conditions, such as rough roads or extreme temperatures, your tires may wear out faster.
Importance of Tire Inflation
1. Safety: Properly inflated tires help improve handling and stability. Improper inflation can increase the risk of a blowout or cause potential accidents.
2. Fuel efficiency: Proper inflation reduces rolling resistance and saves on fuel.
3. Tread life:
a. Overinflation: tires can cause the center to wear down prematurely
b. Underinflation: can cause the edges to wear down.
4. Legal Compliance: Under Highway Traffic Act 70(3)(a): Improper tires – commercial motor vehicle, No person shall operate or permit to be operated upon a highway a vehicle that is, (a) fitted with a tire that does not conform with the standards and specifications prescribed in the regulations. Set Fine: $200.00. Therefore, underinflation is not only unsafe but can cost you due to negligence.
As essential workers, it is critical for Truck Drivers and Transport Professionals to understand the importance of trailer wear and its implications if not maintained regularly. Regular alignments also improve performance and longevity of the unit, improve fuel efficiency, and ensure tires wear evenly.
At TIP Group-Canada, we have specialists to advise you on proper tire pressure to support the weight of your truck and its load as well as new tire options for ultimate safety and efficiency.