It is critical that commercial fleets properly maintain the tire inflation of their vehicles. Fleets often adjust pressure to at least the minimum inflation pressure for the load, while trying to maximize variables like tread life, even wear, ride, and fuel economy.
When the ideal tire pressure is established, it is important that tires are filled when they are “cold,” which means that the tire has been sitting at least 4 hours after coming off of the road.
Can you set tire pressure and then forget it? The answer is definitely NOT. Air is always escaping from your tires… it can leak through faulty valve stems, around rim flanges on wheels, or a nail or screw can cause a slow leak. It is recommended that you check your tire pressure at least monthly, if not more frequently… depending on the nature of your driving behavior, road conditions, ambient temperatures, and overall quality of your tires.
Even if your valve stems and rim flange seals are tight, you can still lose up to 4 pounds of pressure per month because air molecules dissipate through the tire itself. Also, different tire models can vary in how much pressure they lose. Not to mention, in the cold winter months, tires naturally seem to lose pressure… this is due to thermal contraction, which results in pressure decreases even though the volume of air remains the same in the tire.
No matter how good your tires are, if you don’t maintain the proper inflation, you will end up with underinflated tires. Underinflated tires also result in a less-than-optimal tread footprint that can cause irregular tire wear that can lead to premature tire wear.
Underinflated tires can run too hot and sidewalls can flex excessively, resulting in fatigue to the steel cords inside. Both of these scenarios can be dangerous and cause a tire to fail. Also, tires that are underinflated waste fuel. Estimates vary based on the type of tire, but if all your trailer tires are just 4 or 5 psi underinflated, you could lose 1% on overall fuel economy.
Tire pressure should be checked and maintained on a regular basis. Completing a tire safety check and properly inflating each tire should be part of every maintenance event.
Always remember… safety first!