A flat tire can ruin anyone’s day. But by adhering to the DOT tire regulations, you can reduce your chances of tire failure.
You can also improve your vehicle’s performance and ensure legal compliance. Learn more about the DOT tire regulations, how to check your tire tread, and choose the right tires for your commercial vehicle.
Why Are Tire Checks Important?
Without regular tire checks, you could be at a greater risk of accidents on the road. But easy maintenance can help ensure your tires are always in the right condition, improving safety, fuel efficiency, and vehicle longevity.
The U.S. DOT and FMCSA help ensure the safety of everyone on the road through initiatives such as CSA scoring and DOT tire regulations. Every year, tire failures cause around 11,000 crashes, resulting in 200 deaths in the U.S.
For large commercial vehicles, the aftermath of tire blowouts can be catastrophic. You can reduce your risk of tire blowouts with frequent tire checks and regular tire maintenance.
Fuel Efficiency and Performance
Did you know that your tires significantly impact your vehicle’s fuel efficiency? Properly inflated and balanced tires with good tread help reduce rolling resistance.
Most logistics software has a tire pressure monitoring system that can help diagnose misaligned or under-inflated tires. However, if you feel your truck vibrating or pulling, check for tire damage.
Longevity of Vehicle
Commercial trucks are costly to replace, and regular tire maintenance can improve their overall longevity. Good tires are essential and one of the most straightforward components of your vehicle to maintain.
It’s even possible to retread tires to extend their working lives safely. You can save time and money on unexpected repairs by staying ahead of problems.
How Do You Measure Tread Depth?
Tread is the grooved pattern on your tires that provides grip on the road. Therefore, tread depth is the deepness of this pattern on your tires. You can measure tread depth with a tire tread depth gauge by placing the gauge’s probe into the tread groove as far as it will go.
Check in a few places, as the tread can wear unevenly. Commercial truck drivers should check their tires’ tread as part of every pre-trip checklist, and drivers of passenger vehicles should check the tread on their tires every 3,000 miles.
What Tools To Use When Checking Tire Tread
A tire tread depth gauge is one the most accurate ways to check your tire tread. Trucking software is another excellent option as it can automatically scan and record your tires’ treads and provide warnings when you should replace them soon.
Truck drivers should use one of these accurate methods for checking their tires as part of their pre-inspection check. Road-side inspections will also include a thorough tire tread check.
The penny test is a classic solution for not having the correct tools for checking the tread. Simply insert a penny into the tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head down.
If you can see his entire head, your tread is less than the recommended 2/32-inch, and it’s time to replace or retread your tires.
Tread Depth Regulations for Commercial Trucks
To comply with federal code 393.75, all commercial tires must have a tread groove pattern with a depth of at least 2/32 of an inch.
Additionally, the tire tread depth on the front wheels of a bus, truck, or truck tractor must be at least 4/32 of an inch when measured from any major tread groove.
CSA Tire Violations
Tire maintenance is essential to avoid CSA tire violations. There are both 8-point and 3-point tire violations, with 8-point violations carrying the highest weight possible.
- 8-point violations
- Flat tire
- Exposed fabric, ply, or belt material
- Tread or sidewall separation
- Audible air leaks
- Cut that exposed ply or belt
- Poor tread depth
- 3-point violations
- Re-grooved tires
- Tire load weight rating
- Under-inflated tires
How To Select Your Tires
Choosing the right tires is essential for the safe operation of your vehicle. When selecting tires for a commercial truck, consider the size of the tires, the weather or terrain you drive in frequently, your fuel efficiency, the warranty, the cost per mile, the truck’s age, whether the vehicle is used for long- or short-haul trucking and reviews of the tires.
Size of Truck or Trailer
Your vehicle’s load rating will dictate which tires you can use. All tires are marked with the maximum weight they can carry. Remember that a vehicle is not safe to operate if its weight exceeds the tire’s rating.
Weather and Terrain
Driving conditions significantly impact the type of tires that are appropriate for your commercial vehicle. For example, if you travel over snow or ice, you should use chains for safety purposes. You will want to select more durable tires if you often drive on rough roads with many potholes.
Since there is a considerable amount of resistance between your tires and the ground, tires affect fuel efficiency considerably. You can improve fuel efficiency by properly inflating your tires and choosing the best ones for your vehicle.
It’s wise to choose commercial tires that are protected by a warranty. You may even opt for the extended warranty if your typical route is riddled with potholes or you often drive in bad weather conditions.
Cost Per Mile
Fuel is expensive, and operating a large commercial truck requires a lot of fuel. Luckily, with well-maintained, fuel-efficient tires, you can cut down on your cost per mile. High-quality tires also do not need to be replaced as often, saving you money in the long run.
Age of Truck
The age and working condition of your vehicle will also affect the tires that you choose. Better tires are often more worthwhile on an older truck as they can help with fuel efficiency.
Long or Short Distance Hauling
Whether you are long haul or short distance trucking, you need good tires. You want tires that will last to avoid unexpected repair stops with long-distance trucking. Conversely, short-distance hauling usually occurs in densely populated areas where you want durability against curbs.
To make the best tire purchase decision, take the time to read reviews about the different types of tires on the market. From there, you can choose the tires that have already been proven to meet your needs.
Drive Safely With DOT-Approved Tires
The right tires are essential to the safe operation of a commercial vehicle. By following DOT tire regulations for tread depth and tire type, you can stay in compliance, improve your vehicle’s performance and protect yourself as well as others on the road.
All tires must be DOT-approved. They need to have a stamp that indicates that the tire complies with DOT safety standards.
Commercial truckers should check their tire tread as part of their pre-trip safety checklist. Drivers of passenger vehicles should check their tires at least once per month for optimal safety.
Most tires have an approved service life between six to ten years.
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