As old man winter keeps an icy grip on the Northern Hemisphere, drivers are better safe than sorry. Although the frigid temperatures are easily resisted from inside a toasty driver’s seat, the pavement is a different story. We all know that common sense is not that common, and taking care of your tires is one of the most sensible things to do in the winter. Now more than ever, we’ll examine why it might be a great time to start thinking about a tire pressure monitoring system, TPMS for short, and how it can benefit fleets and your drivers.
Why a TPMS?
Jumping out of the cab in winter weather is nobody’s idea of a fun time, especially once you realize you’ll be struggling to fit the pressure gauge on your inside dual while running dual tires. Yikes. Measuring the outside tire is simple, but trying to get an accurate reading for the inside can really be a pain. Using a TPMS is one way to make your drive safer and more convenient, among a range of other benefits to your rig.
1. Safety First
September 2007 made TPMS (mostly in the form of low-pressure warnings) a requirement in all new U.S. vehicles under 10,000 lbs, but they aren’t required in heavy trucks. That definitely seems counterintuitive when you consider the additional mass and weight of commercial vehicles AND the consequences of a blowout. One of the primary arguments for making TPMS in lighter vehicles was safety in the first place, so why not commercial rigs? Keeping tire properly inflated will improve the safety of fleets and individual drivers, decreasing stopping distances and increasing handling capabilities.
2. Lower Fuel Consumption
Studies by the U.S. Department of Transportation have shown fuel economy drops of .5% per 10 psi of under-inflation in a commercial tire. Multiple that by each tire on every rig in your fleet and you might as well be staying warm by burning dollar bills. The study also pointed out that 53% of tractor tires are underinflated by at least 5 psi, with 57% of trailer tires lacking the same amount. Obviously, that’s more money spent on fuel – the top cost for fleets across the nation.
3. Longer Tire Lifespans
Although it can happen for several reasons, one of the most common and annoying equipment issues is irregular tire wear. Typically, irregular wear is related to air pressure, and more likely than not that’s underinflation rather than over-inflation. Along with degrading treads, tire casings can also become damaged in the process and lead to more unpleasant and expensive repairs. Additionally, certain TPMS will also measure tire temperatures to understand how heat may also be causing excessive wear and tear.
If you thought that you were safe from the growing “internet of things” by being a trucker, you may have to rethink that idea. TPMS are becoming fully integrated parts of the technology of trucks, reading much more than previously possible. The right system can be seamlessly integrated into your current fleet management software and used to create better driver accountability, safety, and ultimately fewer expenses.