Tire Maintenance Tips: How to Keep your Heavy Equipment’s Wheels Turning
TIRE MAINTENANCE TIPS: HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEAVY EQUIPMENT’S WHEELS TURNING
Reading time: 5 min
In addition to fuel, tires are one of the largest costs associated with maintaining a heavy equipment fleet. Proper tire maintenance is critical to keeping operating costs low, ensuring operator safety and making sure your fleet stays where it belongs – on the job.
While tires come in countless types and sizes, the rules for maintaining their longevity are basically the same. Here’s what it takes to keep your heavy equipment’s wheels turning.
Choose the Correct Tire Pressure
Maintaining optimal tire pressure is the most crucial aspect of tire maintenance. Running your equipment on tires that aren’t properly inflated will cause the tires’ tread to wear down more quickly and increase the likelihood of sidewall ruptures.
The optimal tire pressure for your equipment depends on several factors, including use case, load capacity and speed. Generally, you should choose the lowest inflation pressure that carries the maximum anticipated load at the fastest speed your equipment will be traveling during operation.
Keep in mind that different types of equipment and tires have differing inflation pressure requirements, so there is no standard recommended PSI. For example, skid steer tires operate at an inflation pressure of 45-60 PSI, while the recommended tire pressure for forklifts is 100-120 PSI.
To find the right inflation pressure for your particular machine, you’ll need to consult its service manual. Some tires also have the recommended inflation pressure inscribed on their sidewall.
Train your operators to check the tire pressure of equipment in your fleet on a weekly basis. Maintaining your equipment’s tires at the proper inflation pressure will help them last longer and reduce downtime.
Pick the Right Heavy Equipment Tires
Choosing the right tires for your heavy equipment is one of the best ways to improve your tires’ longevity and reduce maintenance costs. When determining the right tires for your machine, you’ll want to consider the size, tread pattern and tire design that are best suited to your application.
Generally, you should stick to the manufacturer’s recommended tire size for your machine. You can find the tire size inscribed on the sidewall of your equipment’s tires or in its operating manual.
Occasionally, you can get some benefit by choosing a slightly larger tire size than what’s recommended. Heavy duty tires with a larger outer diameter can carry heavier loads and last longer than smaller tires.
However, the choice to opt for a larger tire diameter is highly dependent on your equipment and application. For example, it wouldn’t be wise to put larger tires on a skid steer with a bucket, since doing so would lift the bucket too high off the ground.
Tread patterns are often designed for a particular terrain, like sand, gravel or dirt. The best tread pattern for your machine will depend on the type of terrain at your jobsite and how versatile the tire needs to be.
In some cases, the best tire for your application might even be a tire with no tread at all. In industrial warehouses, for example, solid push-on tires without tread are commonly used on forklifts.
If you’re struggling to choose the right tire tread pattern for your use case, then reach out to your heavy duty tire vendor. They can help you choose the tire that makes the most sense for your particular use case.
Heavy equipment tires generally break down into two categories, pneumatic and solid construction tires. Pneumatic tires are filled with air, while solid, or airless, tires are made entirely of a synthetic material, such as rubber.
Pneumatic tires are more affordable than solid tires and they offer a much smoother ride. However, they require far more maintenance as they are prone to flats and blowouts.
Solid tires, on the other hand, are immune to flats and are generally more durable. Their durability makes them well suited for extreme applications such as land fill work or excavation tasks.
Most of the time, you’ll want to choose the type of tire recommended by your machine’s manufacturer. Using a tire that your equipment is not designed for could damage its undercarriage or wheels.
Clean Your Tires
Cleaning your heavy equipment’s tires will help keep them in good condition and allow you to spot any damage to your tire’s tread.
The best way to clean your heavy equipment’s tires is by using a pressure washer or jet nozzle to spray them clean. If you notice rocks or debris lodged in a tire’s tread, use a small file or pry bar to dislodge them from the rubber.
Once the tires have been thoroughly cleaned, you’ll be able to spot any slices or chips in the tread that occurred during the workday. You’ll also want to look out for uneven wear of the tires’ tread and signs of object penetration, like small bubbles or bumps.
Train your operators to clean their tires in this way at the conclusion of each shift. This practice will keep your tires in good condition and help you quickly identify tires that need to be retreaded or replaced.
Once your tires are clean, you can cover them to safeguard the rest of your jobsite. Brands like TireSocks offer products that protect surfaces from the effects of heavy duty tires.
Establish a Tracking and Maintenance Program
A tire tracking and maintenance program is a helpful way to track costs associated with maintaining your fleet’s tires.
In its simplest form, a tire tracking program involves logging how many hours a tire has been used before needing to be replaced or retreaded. This can be accomplished by checking and logging your machine’s hour meter each time you replace or retread its tires.
This should give you an idea of which brands and types of tires are providing you with the most value, and which are underperforming.
You can also use the information from your tire tracking program to identify operators who are especially rough on tires.
When it comes time to work on your machine, you’ll find the parts you need in EquipmentShare's Online Parts Catalog. With OEM parts and fast shipping, you can find exactly what you need to get up and running again. For help understanding your equipment and its parts, reach out to one of our parts experts who can make the process easier.