A commonly-overlooked object on any piece of equipment is the tires. In construction, we work with, and around, rubber-wheeled equipment all the time. Properly maintained tires improve vehicle handling, fuel economy, the load-carrying capability of your vehicle or equipment and increase the life of your tires.
Studies of tire safety show that the most important things you can do to avoid tire failure are maintain proper tire pressure, observe tire and vehicle load limits, avoid road hazards, and inspect tires for cuts, slashes or other irregularities. Doing this can help you avoid tire failure, such as tread separation, blowouts and flat tires. Here are some safety tips for proper tire inspection:
- Inspect tires daily for uneven wear patterns, cracks, cuts, slashes, foreign objects or other signs of wear or trauma. Remove bits of glass and other foreign objects wedged in the tread.
- Use a tire pressure gauge to check the tire pressure at least once a month. Do this when the tire is cold (meaning the tire has been still for at least three hours). You can find the manufacturer-recommended tire pressure information on the vehicle door edge, door post, glove box door or in the vehicle owner’s manual. Improper tire pressure can lead to uneven wear, making the tire less effective when stopping or turning, which may cause collisions, sliding and/or stability problems.
- Check the tire tread depth at the same time you check the tire pressure. In general, tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to one-eighth of an inch.
- Make sure the tires are properly balanced. This adjustment maximizes the life of your tires and prevents your vehicle from veering to the right or left when driving on a straight, level road.
- Do not overload your vehicle. Check the tire information placard or owner’s manual for the maximum recommended load for your vehicle.
- If you are towing a trailer, remember that some of the weight of the loaded trailer is transferred to the towing vehicle.
- Slow down if you have to go over a pothole or other object in the road.
- Do not run over curbs, and try not to strike the curb when parking.
Remember to do your part: be tire smart.