Tyres do not operate in isolation to the rest of the vehicle and the way the whole vehicle is maintained can have a huge effect on tyres , and vice versa. This is the warning from Bridgestone South Africa which contends that while tyres remain the most safety critical items on a truck, they remain the most underrated, misunderstood and poorly handled items on a vehicle.
Dragging brakes can, for example, affect both the speed at which a tyre wears and the type of wear it develops. Similarly, wheel alignment and axle parallelism can result in irregular wear, as well as accelerated wear, the two most often going together. Many other less obvious factors also have a direct effect on tyres. Suspension defects, for example, which allow more weight to be placed on a tyre – or set of tyres – will eventually affect tyres fitted to both sides of the vehicle.
Those tyres carrying the most weight will be under stress from the weight itself while the tyres which are running light will suffer from running in an abnormal state of casing deflection and will be scuffing tread away since only a small portion of the tread will, in fact, be in use.
Wheel rims, chassis flex, engine power and the delivery thereof, retarders and engine brakes and the condition of many other truck features will all directly impact on tyre performance and life. Conversely and to a lesser degree, tyres can affect the life and performance of the vehicle and its components.
Vehicles are designed with the tyre in mind and should the operator decide to change the tyre size, type or position in any way, vehicle components can fail or perform poorly. Wheel bearings, shock absorbers, springs and even the chassis can fail over time because of the tyres fitted. These possibilities are far less obvious and the need for perfect matching of tyre to vehicle escapes most people.
What all the above proves, says Bridgestone, is that the relationship of tyres to the vehicle they are fitted to is far closer than is generally known or appreciated. And because of this relationship, any advance in technology on one side requires an equal advance in technology on the other. The speed at which technology advances in the trucking world can be frightening at times but with tyres being the one component on a vehicle which maintain contact with the earth, it is imperative they must be ahead of the game at all times.
The good news, according to Bridgestone, is that designers of trucks and truck tyres understand this symbiotic relationship and work closely with each other on new technologies and products. The importance of tyres to the overall vehicle performance is never discounted by vehicle designers. Without tyres doing their job properly, the steering and brakes, for example, would be all but useless. The concern is that this understanding falls away when the truck reaches the operator. It is in this arena that a lot of work still has to be done.
In this regard, FleetWatch urges operators to call in their specialist tyre suppliers and have them spend time explaining and training workshop staff , and drivers where possible , on the importance and function of tyres to the overall performance and safety of the vehicles. It will be worth your while.