How to Extend the Service Life of OTR Tires
OTR tires are designed to not just survive, but thrive, while carrying huge loads, performing difficult tasks, and working in extremely harsh conditions. Because of the robust construction of OTR tires, it may seem as if they can endure anything. However, a little care can decrease wear and tear, lower the chance of downtime, increase productivity, and reduce an operation’s tire spend.
The Advantage of Extending the Service Life of OTR Tires
Whether your fleet’s annual tire spend is $5,000 or $500,000, squeezing every dollar out of your OTR tires is key to maximizing return on investment (ROI). Tires are generally one of equipment’s most expensive consumables and taking small steps to keep tires rolling for as long as possible can pay big dividends over time. Plus, working to extend the service life of OTR tires can also provide other advantages like increased uptime and improved productivity of your equipment.
7 Tips for Longer Lasting OTR Tires
Longer-lasting OTR tires don’t require a huge investment from fleet owners or operators; it can be accomplished by simply adopting a few simple best practices.
1. Operate at Optimal Inflation Pressure
If you’re running pneumatic (air-filled) OTR tires on your equipment, ensuring they are inflated to the proper air pressure is one of the best steps you can take to ensure a long lifespan. According to Tire Review, operating an OTR tire at 90% of recommended PSI can reduce tire life by 10%. Furthermore, the greater the inflation pressure of an OTR tire is off, the more dramatic the effects—a tire inflated to 70% of its recommended pressure may have its lifespan cut in half.
- Overinflated tires accelerate wear in the center of the tread, while also making them more susceptible to impact breaks and blowouts
- Underinflated tires allow heat to build up (heat is the number-one enemy of tires) and lead to uneven wear and increased stress on the tire
To ensure optimally inflated tires, you’ll need to know the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure for your tires based on the load, application, and requirements of your equipment and get in the habit of regularly checking the pressure of your tires.
Ideally, you’ll check your equipment’s tires daily before operation. However, even weekly checkups of your tires’ inflation pressure can produce significant results. The best time to check the inflation pressure of your tires is when they’re cold (i.e., at the beginning of the day before the machine has run)—operating a machine warms up the tires, changing their inflation pressure dramatically and making it difficult to get an accurate reading.
2. Inspect OTR Tires Often
In addition to regularly checking the inflation pressure of OTR tires, fleet owners and operators should regularly inspect their tires before operation. Unnecessary tire wear can be avoided by keeping an eye out for any signs of irregular wear—like a tread wearing more on the outside or center—and addressing any underlying problems it indicates.
Other things to look for are signs that a tire requires replacement, such as deep cracks, cuts, tears, bulges, and dry rot. Also, you’ll want to check to make sure that the tire valves are intact and valve caps are in place.
3. Optimal Operation
Operators play a huge role in the life of OTR tires and how they drive can play as significant a role in tire life as inflation and inspection. The inattentive or careless operation of equipment can lead to everything from increased wear to more downtime. Encourage operators to avoid obstacles like large potholes and rocks and make an effort to avoid other debris like boards and scrap metal, which may cause impact breaks or punctures.
Operators are also advised to simply slow down, especially when making turns. Skidding and sliding while making high-speed turns is both hazardous to others on the job site and your equipment’s tires—it expedites wear. Rapid acceleration and braking also speed up tire wear.
4. Avoid Overloading
With tight deadlines, busy schedules, and a shortage of workers, it’s tempting to try to get as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time you can. However, overloading equipment puts an excessive amount of stress on its tires and can cause them to overheat, deform, and possibly fail—which is bad for tire life, operator safety, and others working nearby. Know the load equipment tires can carry and make sure to stay within their capacities.
5. Regular Rotation
Just like car tires, OTR tires benefit from regular rotation. Moving tires to different positions on a machine changes how they wear, prevents rapid abrasion in a single area of the tire, and ultimately extends their service life.
6. Don’t Mix It Up
OTR tires work together on equipment—whether it’s four, six, or eight tires. Consequently, it’s important that the tires all feature the same construction (for example, bias, radial, or solid), tread pattern, and tread depth. This is especially true for tires on the same axle and dual-tire configurations. Mixing tires places extra strain on equipment drivetrains, decreases their performance, can affect technologies like grade control, and increases wear on its tires.
Manufacturers have their own unique requirements regarding the outer diameter (OD) of tires on drive axles and duals, which can affect their warranty. Review an equipment manufacturer’s standards of operation before making any tire changes.
7. Application-Specific Tires
Tires are designed with specific features that allow them to shine in particular applications. Pairing the unique features of an OTR tire—such as its construction, tread pattern, and rubber compound(s)—with the task it will perform plays a substantial role in performance and longevity. For example, mining and quarry tires like our Yokohama RB42A and RL47 are designed for hauling heavy loads over longer runs and feature a special compound engineered to dissipate tire-killing heat. Conversely, tires like the RL45 and RL 42 are designed to work in abrasive conditions and are constructed with a special wear-resistant compound.
The better a tire’s characteristics are paired to application, the better the outcome. Understand how to choose an application-specific tire or work with your dealer to find a tire that meets your unique needs.
Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America
Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America (YOHTA) is a leader in application-specific tires. Between our premium Yokohama brand and trusted Alliance, Galaxy, and Primex brands, you can find an OTR tire for every application and piece of equipment on the job site—including earthmovers, loaders, dozers, graders, backhoes, and compact equipment. Contact your local YOHTA dealer or rep to learn more about our wide range of OTR tires and how they can help improve your operation’s performance and efficiency, and lower your tire spend.