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32nds of an Inch…How valuable are they to you?

How to handle low tread tires

Revvo Technologies
July 20, 2023

“Pull them off and send them to retread.” That’s what the technician thinks as they inspect truck tires with low-ish tread depth. And they’re right — that’s exactly what they should do in order to keep the truck on the road and save their fleet time and money. But are you, the fleet manager, arming your technicians with the right tools and technology to safely get the most miles out of your fleet’s tires? You see, there is a fine and difficult line between pulling tires too soon and pulling them too late…and it’s costing you money. Let’s chat about that.

Fleets should predetermine their pull points based on their specific applications. For example, many fleets pull tires for retreading when the tread is at 4/32” or 5/32”. These depth measurements will also vary based on tire position. For example, steer tires must be pulled out of service at 4/32, while drive and trailer tires can be pulled at the lower 2/32”. Ok, good. Easy! Right?

Well… let me bring this into the real world for a minute: what do you think is the appropriate decision for a technician to make when both steer tires (virgin tires) have 7/32” of tread during today’s shop visit (4/32” is the pull point policy for his fleet), suspension is tight, and the next shop visit is in 90 days? Think, think, think…..ummmmmm, pull the tires…no, wait — leave them on….

See! Not as easy as you thought. Let’s talk dollars and use the following costs as an example:

Well, the technician has two choices, pull them off (Decision A), or leave them on(Decision B). If he goes with Decision A, he is essentially pulling the tires off too soon and increasing the per unit cost (cost per 1/32”). The example above represents the cost per 1/32” if you could actually consume all 1/32”, but with the recommended pull point at 4/32, the amount you can actually consume is 19/32”, with an actual cost per 1/32” of $39.47. Decision A would result in throwing away $118.41 worth of perfectly good tread, resulting in less miles traveled and increasing the total cost of ownership of that truck. What if this happened hundreds of times a year? And don’t forget, the same cycle repeats itself on retreaded tires because there is a cost to each 1/32” of a retreaded tire too, albeit a smaller cost than a virgin tire. On the flip side, if he chooses Decision B and leaves them on, he risks losing a good casing and ending up with a non-retreadable tire, also increasing total cost of ownership. (Quick side note, the number one cause of damage to tire casings is heat caused by underinflation.)

So where am I going with all this? The point is, technicians make decisions everyday that impact your fleet’s cost. If the technician above could somehow know that this truck would be ok if he pulled the steer tires during the next shop visit because this truck only averages a consumption of 2/32” tread depth between shop visits, he would have safely maximized the tire life while lowering his tire costs. But, it is almost impossible for a technician to make that decision without this very specific data and risk operating on dangerously low tread depth and or losing a casing. Just as fleets have modified preventive maintenance intervals based on oil changes and other factors, maybe you should consider a data driven tire platform to help transition your preventative maintenance program to a predictive maintenance program. Tread consumption happens out on the road, not in your shop. Have eyes on your tires in between shop visits. Be Proactive! Check out Revvo’s Tire Management Platform!

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