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How Tire Pressure Optimizes Fleet Performance

Tire pressure effects optimized fleet performance

As a fleet manager, you’re concerned with fleet efficiency, fuel consumption, and your labor pool—all of which affect your bottom line. Believe it or not, tire pressure is a key component to optimizing fleet health. It leads to consistent handling for safety and lowers fuel consumption for cost savings.

Why Is Tire Pressure Important?

Fleets rely on tires to grip snow and ice, support a vehicle’s weight, and stand up to long periods of driving. The health of your tires impacts your fleet’s efficiency, vehicle control and safety, braking, steering, acceleration, load capacity, and fuel economy. To keep your tires in top shape, maintaining the correct tire pressures is paramount.

Vehicle and tire manufacturers set recommended air pressures to ensure ideal tire performance. Having the correct tire pressure means a vehicle’s weight is distributed evenly on the tire itself. Too much or too little air changes the physical shape of the tire and alters the contact patch—the amount of rubber touching the road surface.

 

A properly inflated tire ensures the contact patch is using the tire tread evenly and effectively. Under-inflation often results in excess stress and use on the outside of the treads; over-inflation creates a slight oval shape in the tire, which reduces the size of the contact patch and puts stress on the center of the tread.

Wear

Improperly inflated tires wear faster and unevenly. Left unchecked, this can result in the need for new tires much earlier than anticipated. Knowing what different tire wear patterns mean offers insight into what’s going on with tire pressure and even issues with suspension or control arms.

Under-inflated tires (low tire pressure) show signs of excessive wear on the tread’s shoulder. In an over-inflated tire, more of the middle of the tire touches the road and carries the vehicle load, so the center of the tread will experience more wear.

When there are patches of the tire carrying more load, the tire will wear more quickly than a tire with even weight distribution. Unevenly worn tires generally require frequent replacements to prevent leaks, blowouts, and loss of control from having no traction.

Studies have shown worn tires severely impact a vehicle’s safety. A study by AAA reported the difference between vehicles with good tread and those with insufficient tread going from 60 mph to a dead stop. With good tread, the vehicle stopped safely; with worn tread, the vehicle continued to move forward at a startling 40 mph. This isn’t surprising since worn tires have a 28% reduction in handling ability.

Fuel Economy

Tire pressure directly impacts a fleet’s fuel economy. The U.S. Department of Energy claims that under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every one psi drop. That drop adds up over weeks, months, and years. A small fleet of 10 vehicles can see a loss of 2% when tire pressures off by just one psi in each vehicle. The numbers grow as vehicles are added, and psi is lowered.

If under-inflation causes a loss of fuel economy, you can add air to your tires to improve fuel economy, right? No. Tests have shown that ideal fuel mileage comes from having tires inflated to the recommended pressure. One company found that employees could save an average of $112/year by ensuring tires are properly inflated.

How Does Tire Maintenance Improve Vehicle Safety?

Tire pressure is vital for the handling and control of a vehicle. The tread patterns on tires are designed so that the driver will get the most performance when the tread is contacting the road evenly.

A tire just 25% below its recommended pressure is 3x as likely to be involved in a crash. Under-inflation results in the sides of the tire having more contact with the road than the center of the tire, causing excessive flex in the tire’s sidewall, which changes handling characteristics. On the other hand, a tire with too much air reduces the contact patch even more. Both cases result in decreased grip, which results in loss of control when cornering or braking.

How Can Fleet Managers Track Tire Maintenance?

Regularly checking tires and tire pressure increases the likelihood of noticing uneven wear, defects, and leaks. Titan GPS includes a tire pressure monitoring system, so maintaining tire pressure and health is easy.

Our popular vehicle maintenance tracker sends fleet maintenance reminders to fleet managers, mechanics, fleet inspectors, and drivers to inspect, rotate, inflate, and change tires at intervals that make sense for your vehicles and your business.

With Titan GPS’ Advanced Vehicle Diagnostics, fleet managers can access the OBDII data of many light-duty vehicles. You can see the current tire pressure of fleet vehicles right from the Titan GPS dashboard.

What is a Typical Maintenance Schedule for Fleet Vehicles?

If you wait until an issue pops up to fix it, you’re in reactive maintenance mode. Preventative maintenance includes schedules with a specific checklist to avoid critical safety issues. Preventing incidents increases safety, vehicle health, fleet efficiency, and overall cost savings.

Tires, tubes, liners, and valves account for 43% of truck maintenance costs. Consistent, scheduled maintenance lowers a fleet’s risk of incidents and keeps fleet vehicles in top shape, so your assets and drivers are safe.

Basic service is suggested at 10,000 to 20,000 miles. Thorough inspections should happen every 30,000 miles (refer to your owner manuals to know your fleet’s optimal intervals).

Titan GPS tracking features record your maintenance history and include reminders based on engine hours, calendar, and odometer to avoid missing your prime maintenance window.

Wrapping Up

Successful fleets monitor data to optimize asset health and driver safety and avoid unnecessary wear and tear on fleet vehicles. Telematics is the most reliable way of collecting and analyzing data—including tire maintenance scheduling—keeping your fleet up and running. Titan GPS is a leader in the telematics industry and provides the tech and reporting fleet managers need to stay on top of tire maintenance and optimize asset and driver safety.

Request a free demo and see how we can help your business in ways you never expected.

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