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6 Steps to Longer Tire Life

Posted on 30th Oct 2013 @ 2:09 PM

Keep your idle equipment in the best working condition by following these tire storage guidelines.
The slump in the economy has caused a lot of construction businesses to have idle pieces of equipment. Storing equipment and tires for a long time can have a negative effect on their performance and productivity. But certain steps can be taken to make sure any idle equipment and tires are well-maintained. Properly storing tires will keep them in the best working condition possible and ready for use.
1. Temperature Considerations
Tires are manufactured with compounds designed to resist damage from sunlight, the ozone and temperature fluctuations. But allowing tires to sit for long periods of time can significantly reduce the amount of time they can be used.
To keep tires in the best condition, they should be stored in temperature-controlled areas away from extreme heat or cold and out of direct sunlight. Tires stored in the elements deteriorate faster than those stored properly. If equipment must be stored in direct sunlight, an opaque cover should be used to protect the tires.
2. Tire Position
Tire and wheel assemblies stored by themselves should be stored vertically against a stable surface. Storing tires in this upright position makes it easier to access them and reduces the chance of defective tires. When storing several tires, enough room should be left to remove the first stored tire from the pack.
3. Tire Pressure
Inflated tires should be separated from the equipment and deflated to 50 percent of the normal pressure. The valve caps should stay in place.
Tires left on the equipment should be stored at the manufacturer's recommended air pressure and routinely monitored. Tires will lose air over time, and as tire pressure decreases, tires flatten out. This stresses a tire's sidewall at the flex point and creates a flat spot on the tread.
At a minimum, tires and wheels should be monitored and recorded monthly while in storage. Any tire that continually needs air should be removed and inspected to find the source of the leak. During the tire inspection, the wheel assemblies should also be inspected. The person inspecting the equipment should look for cracks in the metal, bent or broken wheel locks, faulty valves and bent rims.
4. Storage Time
Equipment that must be stored for several months should be raised on jacks, blocks or some other safe method to take the vehicle's weight off the tires. If this cannot be done, then the equipment should be stored on a level surface with adequate drainage and should be clear of oil, diesel, grease and any other petroleum-based materials.
The tire pressure should be increased by 25 percent over the recommended pressure to compensate for typical air loss, and the vehicle should be moved at least every three months. This reduces the risk of flat spots and ozone cracks at the tire's flex points. Periodic inspections of the area should also be conducted, specifically for equipment leaks, pooling fluids such as water and other potentially damaging concerns. The tires should be returned to the recommended pressure before reactivating the equipment.
5. Inspections Before Reuse
Before tires are remounted, their interior should be thoroughly inspected by looking for cracks, debris, moisture, rust spots or dirt - all of which can block or damage the valve. Moisture may also bleed into the casing causing steel belts to oxidize. The safest solution is to have the tires completely cleaned and dried before mounting.
If the tires have been stored on the equipment and are ready to return to service, a complete tire and wheel inspection should be performed. This includes checking for cuts in the tire's sidewall and tread areas, which often develop quickly depending on the environment and how the equipment is used. If cuts have penetrated the tread or sidewall, and ply or belt cords can be seen or felt, the tire should be pulled for additional inspection, repair or replacement. Serious cuts in a tire can potentially cause damage to the equipment and increase the risk of an accident.
Those inspecting the equipment should pay close attention to the tire tread for abnormal or uneven wear patterns, and the vehicle's front and rear struts should be checked for leakage. A leak in a strut could cause a shift in weight leading to irregular tire wear or an unbalanced load condition. Also, the general tire alignment should be checked including the toe-in.
The person inspecting the tires should also look for rocks lodged in the tread and stand to the side of the tire to properly and safely remove rocks. If the rock is embedded in the casing, the force of removing it can cause the rock to come out at a high velocity, potentially causing injury. If any damage is found, the tire should be pulled for inspection and repaired or replaced.
Performing simple steps like these will keep equipment and tires in excellent working condition until they are ready to use. Improving tire life will help you avoid costly downtime and increase productivity and profitability.
6. Tire Rotation and Tracking Program
Regardless of your storing methods, to increase tire life and productivity, they should be rotated by using the "first in-first out" policy. This means the tire that has been stored the longest should be the first one to put back into service. The best way to keep track of this is with a tire-tracking program. This software provides a way to manage inventory and track every tire on a jobsite when they are purchased and mounted, serviced and scrapped. Tracking systems will ultimately extend tire life, increase productivity and cut costs.