Spec’ing saves money

Making the right tire choice will reduce costs over time

By Aaron C. Murphy

Challenges in spec’ing
We’ve heard from our customers about the challenges or complications they face when spec’ing the right tire for the right application. There are many factors involved in the decision and many things to consider.

Tires are considered assets in fleets; the longer the asset can be used before discarding, the more value it brings to the fleet. Steer, drive and trailer position tires all have unique tread designs, siping and de-coupler grooves and other irregular wear fighting features that help the specific tires perform at their optimum during their initial life, prior to retreading. One of the many challenges faced by maintenance managers is equipment that’s used in varied functions. We’ve seen situations where a vehicle is used for a long-haul route and then switches over to a short-haul route, or vice versa. This can lead to premature removal or lower performance of tires, as some are very application-specific.

While some tires do well in varied functions and fit in certain wheel positions with different applications, progressive fleet managers want to optimize a tire’s performance and usage during its original tread life. This also applies to the retread cycle when retreads are utilized. Matching the proper type of tire with the proper vehicle application goes a long way in overcoming performance limitations.

Another challenge is the legal requirements that states place on motorcoach tires. With safety a primary concern, many states utilize field inspections by DOT or highway patrol to ensure that the tires meet the requirements of the vehicle. This includes air pressure, tread depths and other data.

Understanding the performance of each type and pattern of tire, as well as the legal requirements, allows a manager to make the best decision when spec’ing tires on new equipment.

Save money with smart spec’ing
Paying a premium at the OE level (not settling on the standard tire available) might mean a bit more initial investment when purchasing equipment, but the overall cost-per-mile will be driven down by having the correct tire in the correct application.

Depending on the needs of an operator, retreading may be prevalent. If so, make sure the spec’d tires have a solid and durable casing. Additionally, take the time to understand the equipment’s primary role and get the optimum original mileage. Some tires, when placed in applications where they are not primarily intended, can see a reduction of up to 50 percent of the original tread mileage.

Making the Right Tire Choice
We encourage everyone to consult with a servicing tire dealer. Their experience with products in similar types of operations is a valuable tool for spec’ing the right products.

Tire manufacturers also are a primary resource of brand-specific information for bus managers to tap into. They employ engineers and representatives that have a high level of technical expertise on their brand as well as many others. They will know what tread patterns match which road conditions, and the best tire for the type of vehicle. Manufacturers also understand the effects of free-rolling axles and high torque on tires.

Using tire manufacturers and servicing dealers as a resource can assist in making the right choice. Overall, the bottom line benefits should all point to operational cost reduction and safety.