By Adam Gosling

It’s really strange that we rarely consider the ALTERNATIVE FACTS we provide in regards to our own tyre maintenance. With modern TPMS, pressures can be checked from the driver’s seat with the push of a button and records maintained electronically

We are all witness to the rise of the new terms ALTERNATIVE FACTS in the English language. It’s been a long time story for tyres!
Many people observe a tyre that is wearing in an irregular fashion, or has gone flat at an inconvenient time and invariably blame the tyre without any consideration of the outcomes of their own actions (or lack of them) on the tyre, which only does as it is told even to the point of its own demise! ALTERNATIVE FACTS are presented as to why the tyre failed to perform to unreal expectations.

Increased tyre life and safety

Modern tyre design, manufacturing and post production inspection processes have improved the quality of tyres of all sizes. Improvements in material science and production techniques have enabled increased tyre life and safety with decreased fuel consumption and cost. How many other consumer products can lay claim to such enhancements? The motor vehicle may do, but how many cars cost less than they did in the past?
The Research and Development that is required to engage these improvements in tyres is expensive and requires people with expansive outlooks and large-scale capital to fund such programs. High power computers to design and model the tyre, expensive equipment to produce then test the tyre before it goes into production well, before the tyre hits the warehouse ready for distribution.

Quality is related to price

A small factory is invariably at a disadvantage when compared to major industrial conglomerates; but this doesn’t always equate to producing a sub-standard product. Quality is nearly always related to price. If you wish to buy cheap, then why and how do you expect a high-quality product? Tyres which appear cheap initially may well cost more down the line as there are components omitted. The weight of a tyre is a good gauge on its construction, so don’t take the manufacturers’ word. For commercial users, a sample of the shipment should be inspected, including actually weighing the tyre to determine compliance to manufacturers specifications. Too much work I hear some say, do tell your drivers that after they experience a steer tyre failure at highway speeds. I would never wish to have to face a driver’s family and inform them their parent/partner is not coming home tonight.
The same relates to a tyre service regime. A cheap or non-existent development program will not provide the intelligence and detail required to provide a long life and safe outcome. Anyone who suggests otherwise is presenting ALTERNATIVE FACTS. In these days of GPS tracking, over speed alerts, harsh braking, lane change warning, collision avoidance even by autonomous vehicles, the same assumption is made by too many: “The tyres are ok” or “Tyres, what have they got to do with lane change warnings, why should I spend money to maintain my tyres?”
A tyre responds to the load applied, just as any machine does. For a tyre it’s not only the actual mass it is supporting but also the operating speed. Whilst the pavement makes contribution to the work a tyre performs, the speed at which a tyre operates in is the major contributing factor. That small bump you felt at 15 km/hris magnified exponentially at 100 km/hr.

No tyre pressure records

Tyre specifications are detailed by the various Tyre and Rim Associations (T&RA) around the globe, a tyre is a true global ambassador. The dimensional specifications of a tyre are well governed and regimented so that, regardless of where the tyre is made, it will be within a small tolerance of tyres manufactured elsewhere. The physical loads a tyre can support are also detailed by the T&RA’s, with load and speed tables freely available. A tyre relies upon the contained air to support and carry the applied load. The larger the tyre the more load it will support. The largest of mining tyres are now in excess of 4 metres in diameter and will support 100,000 kgs.
Every tyre relies upon the operator to maintain the correct level of inflation. At this point in tyre development a tyre does not have the capacity to self-inflate; it may change in time but for the moment the driver of the vehicle is responsible for the tyre’s appropriate inflation.
Lately I have been investigating steer tyre failures on road transport trucks, 22.5” tyres that mysteriously “just blew apart” the initial question in the investigation is: “Where are the tyre pressure records? Please produce evidence you have maintained the tyre within the manufacturer’s operating parameters.”
This is usually met with blank stares, or suggestions the tyres were checked at the last service, or the tyre service provider does that and we don’t know. ALTERNATIVE FACTS is where I group these excuses.
Whilst the truck operator understands the physical mass carried by the truck and how compliance with local regulation is met, they usually cannot determine the compliance of the actual item that supports the carried mass, the tyre.
For many years now on road trucks have been fitted with extensive instrumentation to determine coolant temperature, oil pressure, exhaust gas temperature and other metrics for performance and safety; yet tyres seem to live in the ALTERNATIVE FACTS bin. When was the last time your drivers removed the radiator cap to dip a thermometer into the coolant to check the temperature? Yes, I agree it’s a laughable situation but surely is this not the same as applying a manual pressure gauge to a tyre to determine its serviceability? Why is tyre service stuck in the 1950’s?
With great amusement we view ALTERNATIVE FACTS dumped upon us, but rarely do we consider the ALTERNATIVE FACTS we provide in regards to our own tyre maintenance. WHY?
“Look after your tyres, so when you call upon them to look after you they will be equipped to do so!”
It’s not rocket science and with modern TPMS pressures can be checked from the driver’s seat with the push of a button and records maintained electronically.