These days, tires are more than the rubber that meets the road. Tire technology is constantly changing and innovating. And if there’s one RULE TO ALWAYS FOLLOW, IT’S TO MAKE SURE YOUR VEHICLE HAS GOOD TIRES. The concept is even more important for vehicles in your business fleet. Chris Mercer of Michelin shares the importance of good tires and then some.
MWS: WHY IS A TIRE’S QUALITY AN IMPORTANT ASPECT TO THINK ABOUT WITH VEHICLES IN GENERAL, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THE WORK TRUCK INDUSTRY?
MERCER: There are key differences between higher quality tires versus more affordable brands—longevity, fuel efficiency, comfort, traction, wet grip, retreadability, and durability to name a few. These qualities should be taken into consideration when balancing price. What tradeoff are you willing to make in uptime and serviceability? If a top-tier tire lasts significantly longer than a budget tire in addition to a lower cost of ownership, you have less time in the shop changing tires and more time in the field working.
Michelin is a premium, high-quality brand that is known in the industry for excellent performance, pioneering leadership and innovation. Michelin has been in the forefront of introducing many firsts to the industry, including radial tires and X One® next-generation wide base single tires for trucks.
Our products offer a no compromise solution that provides the fuel efficiency, long-lasting mileage, durability, and weight savings that fleets need. High-quality tires like Michelin provide the best total cost of ownership over time.
Michelin provides a total solution for fleets and operators. We not only offer a complete line of high-quality tires and retreads, we also offer a suite of services to maximize fleet uptime. We offer emergency road service (MICHELIN® ONCall 2.0™), preventive light mechanical maintenance (MICHELIN® MECHANICAL CARE™), and preventive tire monitoring service (MICHELIN® TIRE CARE™) through our MICHELIN® Commercial Service Network of dealers. Our total solution has one goal: to keep fleets up and running with nationwide coverage and predictable pricing.
MWS: WHAT KINDS OF TIRES DOES MICHELIN OFFER FOR DIFFERENT APPLICATIONS WITHIN THE WORK TRUCK INDUSTRY, AND WHY SHOULD FLEET OWNERS CONSIDER THEM?
MERCER: The MICHELIN® X® Multi™ Energy tires are regional tires that deliver a balance of industry-leading fuel efficiency as well as excellent longevity and a high degree of overall durability. Ideal for fleets with a larger geographical coverage, these tires are engineered to withstand both irregular wear and scrub.
The MICHELIN® X® Multi™ D is a next-generation regional drive tire that offers first-class performance and is designed to excel in high-torque applications. It delivers the maximum tread life, traction, and casing durability fleets demand for work trucks and other demanding vocational segments.
The MICHELIN® X® Works D is a next-generation on/off-road drive tire optimized for exceptional traction, toughness, and wear performance in mixed and aggressive applications. The tire is designed for the construction, energy, concrete, and logging sectors operating in mixed-use conditions.
The MICHELIN® Agilis® CrossClimate® tire is best for today’s small-business owners and commercial fleets. This tire was designed specifically for 3/4- and 1-ton pickup trucks and vans used in commercial applications, as well as for European commercial van platforms that have become increasingly popular in the North American market. It offers exceptional stopping distance on wet surfaces for increased safety in urban environments and also ups the ante in long wear life.
MWS: WHAT ARE STEPS FLEET MANAGERS CAN TAKE TO PROLONG THE USABLE LIFE OF FLEET TIRES?
MERCER: In real estate three important considerations are Location, Location, Location. In tire maintenance, the three most important considerations are Pressure, Pressure, Pressure. Maintaining proper tire air pressure is the single most important maintenance activity that a fleet can focus on to maximize its investment in tires. Driving on tires that do not have proper inflation can be dangerous and can cause tire and/or vehicle damage.
Under-inflation is the biggest issue in the industry. It is the number one cause of premature tire removal. With the advancement in today’s radial casing, it is virtually impossible to determine if a tire is properly inflated without using a pressure gauge. Over time, usage conditions can cause a pressure gauge to lose accuracy beyond the 2 psi manufactures’ tolerance range. Periodically calibrate the gauges using a master gauge. The time and effort required to verify gauges and to check tire pressure is time well spent.
Over-inflated tires increase the likelihood of crown cuts, impact breaks, punctures, and shock damage resulting from the decrease of sidewall flexing and an increase in firmness of the tread surface. Additionally, over-inflation can negatively impact traction, vehicle handling, and predictability, as well as reducing overall tread-wear life. Maintain all tires at the fleet target inflation pressure based on the manufacturers’ application data book for the particular axle load to decrease the probability of potential casing damage.
The correct inflation pressures for your tires must incorporate many factors including load, speed, road surface, grip, and handling. Consult a Michelin Truck Tire dealer or MICHELIN® data books for the proper inflation pressures for your application. The MICHELIN® Truck Tire Service Manual includes very detailed information about Tire Maintenance and the impact of tire air pressure.
MWS: DOES MICHELIN RECOMMEND DIFFERENT MAINTENANCE/INSPECTION PRACTICES FOR HEAVY-DUTY TRUCK TIRES VERSUS LIGHT-DUTY TRUCK TIRES?
MERCER: In general, the following checks should be performed by the driver prior to any trip:
- Driver inspection pre-trip, including all tires. This is the most important thing that can be done.
- Verify proper tire pressure.
- Inspect for cuts and objects penetrating the tires.
- Monitor tread depths.
- Watch for irregular wear.
- Inspect suspension components.
A pre-trip inspection is important in improving the operation’s safety and efficiency. A solid pre-trip inspection is critical to ensuring the best performance out of the trucks while staying safe. The advantages of a pre-trip inspection include improved highway safety, reduction of downtime, increased productivity, better comfort and handling, and getting on-time load delivery.
MWS: DOES MICHELIN RECOMMEND RETREADS FOR FLEET USE? DOES MICHELIN OFFER RETREAD SERVICES?
MERCER: Retreading continues to be the strongest contributing factor to promote sustainability and reduce fleet tire costs for both large and small North American fleet customers. As in new tire technology, retread technology continues to evolve and push the envelope toward safer, more fuel-efficient and longer-wearing treads.
Advances in both new tire casing and retread sculpture design, together with advances in retread shop manufacturing technology, continue to improve the quality of retreads to the point that their safety and performance rival that of new tires. Particularly when comparing locally sourced and manufactured high-quality retreads versus Tier 3, imported new tires from Asia, retreads provide superior value. This sustainable, high-quality, low-cost retread message is getting through to the NA market, and we are seeing more and more private and public/government-municipal fleets turn to retreading to manage their environmental commitments and budget concerns. To this end, demand for both our Michelin Retread Technologies and Oliver retread products continues to grow across the USA and Canada.
At Michelin, sustainability is at the core of our strategy. Our commitment to retreading—which focuses on actions that reduce, reuse, recycle, and renew—embodies our promise toward a better way forward.
Cost is a significant advantage of retreading and the reason they have been popular for many years. There are many different types and quality of retreads now available. Every retread is subject to similar regulatory requirements as a new tire. As part of a properly managed tire program, quality retreads provide significant cost savings for fleet customers. Retreads can perform like a new tire at a much lower cost. It will also vary among dealers.
In recent years, low-cost truck tire imports have come to the market. This has put into question the short-term financial decision of low-cost imports versus the total cost of ownership of quality tires and retreads from major brands (price versus total cost). In many instances, low-priced imports may have a lower quality than a retreaded tire from a reputable source. And the new treads from a low-priced import may wear more quickly, and the resultant casing from the import tire may not have the same quality as that from a major brand. In addition, many Tier 3 and 4 low-cost imports do not come with a warranty, and premium retreaders like Michelin Retread Technologies stand behind the product with a warranty. Retreading as part of a properly managed tire and maintenance program allows a fleet to get maximum value out of their tire programs. Some fleets will achieve multiple retreads on a quality casing.
Retreading contributes to the productive life cycle of a tire. By using the original quality casing, a retread can eliminate millions of scrap tires sent to landfills each year. Additionally, it takes much less energy to produce a retread compared to the production of a new tire. According to the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB), it takes approximately 22 gallons of oil to manufacture a new medium-truck tire, but it takes only seven gallons for a retread—a natural resource savings of 68%. This saves hundreds of millions of gallons of oil and eliminates carbon emissions and greenhouse gas from the air we breathe.
In the long run, when properly cared for, good quality casings can be retreaded multiple times and offer excellent mobility solutions that can lead to significant cost savings for the fleet as well as environmental benefits.
Tips from the Michelin Truck Tire Service Manual
- TIP 1 A TIRE’S air pressure is important because heavy truck load weights can be quite high. Tire pressure maintenance is a key component of a complete tire maintenance program. The number of tire-related issues and roadside events will be significantly reduced by maintaining proper tire pressure inspections and ultimately, downtime on the side of the road can be reduced. If the tire is 20% below the recommended pressure, it must be considered flat. It should then be removed and inspected for punctures or other damage by a qualified tire professional. Failure to do so may lead to unwanted downtime failure and/or injury.
- TIP 2 Maintain all tires at the fleet target inflation pressure based on the manufacturers’ application data book for the particular axle load. An inflation pressure mismatch of greater than 5 psi will result in the two tires of a dual assembly that are significantly different in circumference. This results in irregular wear and can also lead to eventual tire loss due to premature casing fatigue. A difference of 5 psi between steer tires will cause the vehicle to pull to the side with the lower pressure. Additionally, under-inflation can result in internal tire heat buildup and potentially premature tire failure.
- TIP 3 Underinflated tires build up excessive heat that can result in tire destruction and/or improper vehicle handling. In addition, it can result in irregular wear and poor fuel economy. Tire wear is very much dependent on the tire’s footprint on the ground when running. Both under- and over-inflation can affect the footprint shape, causing irregular wear and premature removal.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Chris Mercer is the business-to-business off-highway tire segment sales director at Michelin North America, Inc. Find out more, visit www.michelinman.com.