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How Proper Tyre Maintenance Can Improve your Fleet’s Safety

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With all the issues you face managing a courier network, it can be easy for the basics of vehicle maintenance to slip to the back of your mind, and tempting to wait until a problem presents itself before taking action to fix it.

Don’t fall into this trap: it’s crucial that you keep aware of the condition of your vehicles’ tyres and make plans to repair and maintain them. Doing so will not just help you save money and fuel, but will keep your drivers safe.

General Safety Stats

Vehicles with underinflated tyres are three times more likely to be involved in a collision relating to the condition of their wheels, while low pressure also massively increases the risk of hydroplaning on a wet road.

Statistics from the United States estimate that a whopping 11,000 tyre-related crashes could be prevented every year – and current estimates suggest that regular maintenance can extend the life of your wheels by up to 4,700 miles.

For all these reasons, it’s crucial that you’re ready and able to provide regular maintenance for your fleet.

Wear and Tear

Tyres experience different loads based on where they are placed on a vehicle. Front ones, for instance, wear out more quickly on their outside edges, as they are more involved with steering. This in turn causes problems for steering and braking and increases risk of hydroplaning.

Happily, it’s relatively easy to avoid these issues: simply establish a policy of regular rotations across your entire courier network as habit. Moving from front to rear wheels every 5,000-7,000 miles or so can extend their life significantly, as wear is more evenly distributed and less worn areas take heavier loads.

Tread

In addition to general wear, it’s important to make sure your tyres have the right amount of tread. Tread is crucial to general grip but especially in wet weather, when it helps remove water from between the wheel and the road surface.

The minimum legal tread depth in the United Kingdom is 1.6mm, but most motoring organisations recommend a depth of 2mm and up. Some manufacturers even suggest changing at 3mm. Every courier network will have different policies and considerations, but these figures can help serve as a guideline for how often and when to replace balding tyres.

Regular checks can help reduce risks associated with tread. For added benefit, make sure to check more frequently as you approach the 3mm, 2mm and 1.6mm limits.

Pressure

Pressure affects how well and how quickly your vehicle responds to your input, as well as braking and handling in general. Optimal pressure varies among different vehicles, but it’s always crucial to check and maintain it.

Your courier network will also benefit from scheduling checks around estimated loss rates. Tyres lose about one psi of pressure per month, then an additional psi for every drop of around five degrees Celsius. For best results, check all tyres, including your spare, monthly.

Top Tip: Pressure loss is only noticeable when the tyre reaches 50%, so you should never rely on sight or feel to gauge pressure.

Wheel Alignment

Finally, ensure your wheels are aligned according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Misalignment can negatively impact braking, steering and general response times, increasing the chances of a collision.

It can also be very costly to the bottom line for a courier network, as the extra stress on the vehicle’s suspension increases fuel consumption. General advice is to check alignment whenever you change your tyres, and to watch out for signs of misalignment like pulling to one side and uneven wear.

We hope these tips have been helpful, and encourage you to set up good practices of regular checks across your entire fleet.
About author: Desiree Michels

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their online courier network. Numerous transport exchange businesses are networked together on their website, trading jobs and capacity through what is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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