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Tag: Tires & Brakes

Best Practices for Managing Tire Costs

Running a successful utility fleet operation requires fleet managers to, among other things, stay on top of any and every aspect of the business that will impact total operating costs.

A fleet’s tire program is one aspect that makes a significant impact. According to Gary Schroeder, director of global truck and bus tire business for Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. (, tire programs are the second-highest operating cost – behind fuel – for the majority of fleets.

So, what can utility fleets do in an effort to control those expenses?

“Helping fleets understand their total tire operating costs – and the role that tires can play in reducing these costs – is important,” said Dustin Lancy, marketing manager for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. ( “Some fleets consider tire price to be the driving factor, but we urge them to look beyond the upfront cost of a tire and instead … optimize the return on their tire investment.”

Focus on What Matters Most
Keeping tire costs in check requires a tire program that includes proper tire selection, timely maintenance and frequent inspections.

Fairfax Water, a utility headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, maintains a selection of tires and tire/wheel assemblies at each of its maintenance facilities, replenishing as needed. Light-duty tires are mounted and balanced in-house, while the tire/wheel assemblies for the fleet’s larger heavy-duty trucks, trailers and equipment are sent out for servicing.

The utility typically budgets and spends $60,000 to $70,000 annually on tires and road services, according to Dale Collins, Fairfax Water’s fleet services supervisor. 

Collins emphasized the importance of selecting the right tire for each fleet asset.

“Don’t skimp on quality, and don’t overbuy either,” he said. “For example, if a regrooved tire meets the needs, it should be used. A regrooved tire is much more economical and aids in sustainability efforts.”

Cooper Tire’s Schroeder said that initial purchase price, fuel efficiency, tread life and casing integrity all influence the cost of a tire.

Toughness and traction also are considerations. They are highly sought-after tire-performance characteristics because of the debris-strewn surfaces that utility trucks often travel across, Lancy added.

Schroeder agreed. “In our experience, a utility fleet is looking for a fuel-efficient tire that provides good traction along with scrub resistance,” he said.

For its heavy-duty vehicles, Fairfax Water selects tires with the proper load range and tread style (traction or steering), and they may be new or regrooved. For its light-duty units, the utility insists on new tires with vehicle OEM sizing and load ranges. Fairfax chooses all-terrain or all-season tread styles for most applications.

Timely PM and Inspections are Key
Another aspect of effectively managing tire costs is performing timely preventive maintenance (PM) services. This helps to detect potential problems early on that could diminish tire life, according to Collins.

“Things to check for beyond over- or underinflation include unusual wear patterns, which if detected early enough, can be countered or corrected,” Lancy said. “Also, look for cuts, cracks, blisters and other anomalies. If conditions are severe, the tire should be taken out of service.”

Daily pre-trip and post-trip inspections performed by operators also help to identify issues between PMs, Collins said.

“Tire pressure monitoring systems really help, but our operators are the key players. A well-trained professional driver can have a huge effect on tire life/wear,” he noted.

And whether it’s during an inspection or a PM, tire inflation is among the most critical items to check out.

“Maintaining correct inflation pressure is probably the single-most effective practice a fleet can employ to positively impact tire wear, casing life and overall tire performance,” Lancy said.

A properly inflated tire wears longer, runs cooler, performs better and is safer, according to Collins.

Utility truck tire inflation levels should be checked at least once a week, using a calibrated tire gauge, or more often if feasible, Lancy advised.

“Both over- and underinflation should be avoided since these conditions change a tire’s footprint, which can cause irregular and/or premature wear and loss of traction,” he explained. “Underinflation also causes tires to flex more as they roll down the road and can impair fuel economy since underinflated tires force truck engines to work harder. Like tires for other applications, utility truck tires are designed to run at specific pressures based on the load they are required to carry.”

Finally, Collins recommended installing a tire compound in heavy-duty truck, trailer and construction equipment tires. Doing so not only helps to seal small punctures, but it also provides a balancing effect that assists with ride, handling and tread wear.

“We have found with the compound installed that our tire failure rate has dropped,” Collins said. “Tires that can be replaced due to wear versus failing prematurely helps reduce costs.”

About the Author: Grace Suizo has been covering the automotive fleet industry since 2007. She spent six years as an editor for five fleet publications and has written more than 100 articles geared toward both commercial and public sector fleets.


Cover All Bases
Downtime is typically not an option for utility fleets, especially those providing necessary resources during emergency situations. Vehicles must be up and running, and that requires fully functioning tires.

Round-the-clock emergency roadside services are an important contributor to an effective utility truck tire program.

“Our tire vendor’s ability to supply tires – loose or mounted assemblies – and prompt road services is paramount; having to wait extended periods of time for tires or road service is just not acceptable,” said Dale Collins, fleet services supervisor for Fairfax Water in Virginia.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is one company that offers emergency roadside service to utility fleets through its Storm Priority program, which is connected to the 24/7 Goodyear-Fleet HQ Emergency Roadside Service program. Utility fleets call a dedicated phone line and are immediately routed to the 24/7 Goodyear Solution Center, where trained tire professionals collect vital tire information and then locate and dispatch a tire service technician to the incapacitated utility truck’s location for emergency tire service.

The Goodyear-Fleet HQ Emergency Roadside Service program has helped return to service more than 1.7 million trucks of all vocations and configurations, according to the company.

Getting the Most Out of Your Tires

As a utility fleet manager, you operate perhaps the most diversified vehicle fleet of any business, typically using all weight classes of trucks, from light- to heavy-duty, on the road and off, hauling aerial devices, digger derricks and a slew of other job-specific equipment on good pavement or through fields of debris.

Given these characteristics, getting the best value and performance from your tires may not be rocket science, but it does take planning, smart spec’ing and commitment to a maintenance program, according to tire manufacturers.

A fleet’s first step toward tire value is to determine its goals, said Bill Walmsley, product category manager with Michelin Americas Truck Tires ( What do you want in your tires? Durable, trouble-free service and long, even wear? Additional features? Regardless, selecting the best tire for the application is key. Walmsley suggested that fleets start by looking at the same tire size they currently have on their equipment by wheel position and then explore available options in that size to meet the specific conditions under which the equipment will operate. “This might entail specific load-carrying requirements, weather conditions or environmental issues, such as off-road products or tires which operate well in field or snow conditions,” he said.

Calibrating the balance between load and appropriate tire pressure is critical, but it also is easy since every tire manufacturer publishes load and inflation charts for their tires. The only way to make sure the calibrations are correct is to know the loads being carried and use the charts, Walmsley said.

“Tires are designed and optimized to carry a desired load at a specified pressure. Proper pressure for the maximum load being carried is very important. Underinflation and overinflation for the loads being carried will affect tire and casing life and performance,” Walmsley said.

Balance the Benefits
Utility fleets, like all fleets, ultimately are looking for tires that will help lower their operating costs, noted Brian Buckham, general manager of product marketing for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. ( Regardless of application and wheel position, it is important to achieve the right balance of performance benefits.

“In the past, when one benefit such as low rolling resistance in a particular type of tire was optimized, the other benefits of the ‘performance triangle’ – miles to removal and tear resistance – were reduced,” Buckham said. “This dynamic is much less prevalent these days.”

Additionally, fuel economy for vocational tires used to be sacrificed in favor of tread compounds that emphasized miles to removal and tear resistance. The combination of fuel economy regulations and customer requirements has changed those performance priorities, Buckham noted. “With the continual evolution in technology and tire design, engineers have made significant strides in maintaining all three performance properties,” he said. “As fuel-efficiency regulations continue to tighten, the need for tires that help deliver reduced rolling resistance and enhanced fuel economy will only grow. The goal of Goodyear’s research is to develop tires that help fleets reduce their fuel consumption with little to no effect on miles to removal and tear resistance.”

Select a tire that is best for your application needs while also offering good performance and durability that may meet multiple life needs for retreading. That’s the best measure of the overall cost of ownership and return on your tire investment.

“Consider value, not just cost,” Michelin’s Walmsley said. “A replacement tire that offers the best value is not necessarily the one with the lowest price.”

About the Author: Jim Galligan has been covering the commercial truck transportation sector for more than 30 years and has extensive experience covering the utility fleet market. In addition to writing and editing for magazines, his background also includes writing for daily newspapers, trade associations and corporations.


Tire Monitoring Programs Can Help Fleets
Commercial tire manufacturers have long offered services to help fleets monitor tire performance, but the addition of online programs appears to give fleet managers a faster, easier way to spot problems.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Tire Trac program, for example, monitors tire installations, the performance of tires in the field or on the road, the reasons why tires were removed from service, tire inflation history and other key metrics, said Brian Buckham, general manager of product marketing for the tire manufacturer.

“Tire Trac also helps fleets identify tire maintenance opportunities, which can result in real savings,” he said.

Goodyear gathers the Tire Trac data through fleet surveys. Technicians perform on-site inspections to measure tire inflation levels, tread depths and other aspects of a tire’s condition, Buckham said. The captured information is used to create customized reports that show how a fleet’s tires are performing. The program lets utility and other fleets zero in on a specific tire or look at all of the tires across their operation. Fleets can compare cost per mile from location to location and identify systemic trends, Buckham added.


Put a Tire Maintenance Policy on Paper
A good, written policy specifying the maintenance practices a fleet wants followed is a must to get the maximum life out of their tires, said Bill Walmsley, product category manager with Michelin Americas Truck Tires.

A tire maintenance policy should be specific to the fleet’s vehicles, equipment, geography, distance traveled, loads carried, time on the road and other pertinent factors, Walmsley said. It also should cover the specifics of new replacement tires.

Key to this policy is the use of retreading. While retreading may be a given for most fleets, it’s still worth noting that all steer casings can be used for drive and trailer retreads, noted Walmsley. “A casing is fully capable of moving to either position depending on the casing’s age and condition,” he said. “Individual fleets need to determine load composition, winter travel and other sensitivities when determining their retread policy.”

As a rule, the number of times that a tire can be retreaded depends on the application. A steer tire can be retreaded into a drive axle or trailer axle tire; a drive axle tire can be retreaded into either a drive axle tire or trailer axle tire; and a trailer axle tire can be retreaded into another trailer axle tire.

Finally, a fleet’s maintenance policy also should include scrap analysis, Walmsley said.

The Latest Developments in Self-Sealing Tires

For utility fleets, being able to travel across hazardous terrain – such as storm-impacted areas covered in branches, glass and other debris – is a must. Self-sealing tires can be a great asset during these times, allowing vehicle operators to continue driving even after a tire is punctured.

How do self-sealing tires work? Each tire contains an extra layer comprised of a sticky substance that covers the inside of the tire from one shoulder to the other. As a puncture occurs, the substance automatically seals the hole, staving off a flat tire. For instance, DuraSeal Technology developed by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. ( seals punctures up to a quarter-inch in diameter in the repairable area of the tread. And as long as the sidewalls aren’t punctured, drivers can continue operating their vehicles indefinitely. In cases where tire repair or replacement is necessary, self-sealing technology gives drivers time to navigate to a safe place where the work can be done.

Overall, self-sealing tires offer both safety and response-time benefits to utility fleets, helping to ensure that crews can reach isolated areas to restore power to customers without worrying as much about getting a flat tire and the additional man hours such a situation can require.

Fleet-Specific Tires
Many manufacturers are developing self-sealing tire technology. But while companies like Michelin and Continental Tire are focused on developing the technology for light-duty and privately owned vehicles, Goodyear’s DuraSeal self-sealing tire line has been created especially for truck fleets.

“Utility fleet trucks often travel across challenging, debris-strewn surfaces en route to their destinations and are sometimes exposed to objects that have the potential to puncture their tires, which can result in vehicle downtime, an expensive proposition for utility companies,” said Norberto Flores, marketing manager at Goodyear. “Goodyear DuraSeal Technology is designed to help minimize downtime by allowing truck tires to retain air pressure and continue rolling.”

Flores explained that once built into the tire’s casing, Goodyear DuraSeal Technology remains there through the tire’s life cycle – including multiple retreads – and continues to offer downtime-minimizing benefits throughout that life cycle. A wide range of tires that contain Goodyear’s DuraSeal Technology are currently available in the U.S. In particular, the company offers the G731 MSA and G751 MSA specifically for mixed-service and utility trucks. The G731 MSA is designed for 20 percent on-road and 80-percent off-road applications, while the G751 MSA is designed for 80 percent on-road and 20 percent off-road applications.

“The G751 MSA contains more wearable volume for extra miles to removal; a special tread compound for enhanced resistance to cuts, chips and tears; lower rolling resistance construction for improved fuel efficiency; a wide footprint for optimal traction and stability; and a sturdy, tough casing for retreading,” Flores said. Likewise, the G731 MSA offers enhanced tread life, retreadability and fuel economy, he added.

The seemingly steep price tag is one of the primary prohibitive factors when utilities are deciding whether or not to incorporate self-sealing tires into their fleets. But while these types of tires currently cost about three times as much as a standard tire, they will eventually pay for themselves over time through decreased vehicle downtime and fewer tire replacements. The question fleet managers must ask themselves is whether the extra cost is worth the extended time a tire can be used in the field before a replacement is needed.

About the Author: Cheryl Knight has written for the fleet industry for more than 20 years. Her work has appeared in Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet and a number of other niche-market publications.


Tire Facts

  • There are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes per year in the U.S., with almost 200 fatalities.
  • Underinflated tires lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 pound-per-square-inch drop in pressure.
  • Proper inflation can extend the life of tires by up to 4,700 miles.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at

Latest Developments in Self-Inflating Tires

What if tires could inflate themselves and maintain optimal pressure at all times, with no human intervention required? How much of an impact could that make on fuel efficiency, tire life cycle, driver safety and a fleet’s bottom line?

New self-inflating tire technologies being developed today may provide a glimpse into future possibilities.

Cost of (Improper) Inflation
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a tire that’s underinflated by just 10 pounds per square inch (psi) can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 1 percent per tire.

That’s because an underinflated tire, as it flexes, creates greater friction with the road surface, requiring more energy – or fuel – for the vehicle to overcome the added resistance.

This friction also causes heat to build up in the tire, leading to accelerated deterioration and increased risk of blowout. A report by the Technology & Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations on tire pressure monitoring and inflation maintenance states that tires operating constantly at 20 percent below appropriate pressure levels could increase the wear of the tread by 25 percent.

The challenge is that many fleets don’t do a great job of keeping up with tire pressure on a regular basis, with more than half of truck tires on the road operating outside of their target pressure range, according to research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

This is important because tires left on their own, just by natural diffusion, will leak about 2 psi per month. Then there’s the issue of pressure fluctuations resulting from extreme climate temperatures that impact tire performance and longevity. So, it can be difficult and often impractical for fleet managers and drivers to manually keep up with tire pressures all the time.

Self-Contained, Self-Inflating System
One solution under development is Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology (AMT), a self-maintaining tire inflation system that enables tires to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps or electronics. All components of the system, including the miniaturized pump, are fully contained within the tire.

The project was unveiled in 2011 and has been aided by a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. The grant money funds research, development and demonstration of the AMT system for commercial truck tires.

How does AMT work?

“AMT has an internal regulator that senses when the tire inflation pressure has dropped below a specified level,” explained John Kotanides Jr., project manager at Goodyear ( in the Akron, Ohio-based Global Innovations Group. “Once the system senses the pressure drop, the regulator opens to allow air to flow into a pumping tube. And as the tire rolls down the road, under the load of the vehicle, the deflection of the tire will flatten that pumping tube, pushing puffs of air back into the tire through the inlet valve. The air flows into the tire cavity and continues to fill the tire as it rolls down the road until the regulator senses that the specified tire pressure has been met and then shuts the system off, until it senses another pressure drop.”

Kotanides said that the company expects to begin piloting AMT on commercial trucks by the end of 2014, but he could not comment on pricing and when the system will be available for sale.

What fleet applications will benefit from AMT?

“Right now, our focus is on the long-haul Class 8 tractor-trailer setup. But we think this type of system could work on almost any tire that has inflation and that travels down the road under a load,” Kotanides said.

Bolt-On Hub System
Another solution to the problem of underinflated tires is Halo, which was launched earlier this year by Burlingame, Calif., startup Aperia Technologies (

Halo is mounted outside the tire, onto a truck’s axle hub, and is designed to use a wheel’s rotation to maintain optimal tire pressure in dual and wide-based tires on the drive and trailer axles of trucks, tractors, trailers and buses.

“Halo operates on a similar principle to a self-winding watch,” said Josh Carter, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aperia. “It uses a wheel’s rotational motion to pump and maintain optimal tire pressure and therefore does not require any connection to a compressor.”

This is an important distinction because using compressors to power self-inflating tires increases complexity – and cost – and could add weight to a level that negates the fuel economy savings generated by maintaining proper tire pressure in the first place.

Carter said that Halo, which bolts on to the hub on each side of an axle, weighs about 5 pounds per unit and requires fewer than 10 minutes to install by a service technician, without expensive tools.

Since the system is mounted on the axle hub and not integrated into the tire itself, each Halo unit can be remounted for use with multiple sets of tires for up to 500,000 miles or 10 years, the company said.

This bolt-on approach also gives fleet managers flexibility in tire choices, Carter said. “Fleets have a lot of loyalty with a tire manufacturer and they get into a groove with a tire program. With Halo, they can use whichever tire manufacturer they want.”

Carter said that Aperia’s first Halo production run was allocated quickly after launching in March, and the company is currently taking orders for the next round of production. List price is $299 per unit.

Will this system be made available for applications besides long-haul trucking, such as utility fleets?

“Right now our focus is on Class 7 to 8 trucks, primarily those used in long-haul applications because of the payback time frame those fleets can expect from cost savings driven by improved fuel economy,” Carter said. “But we have received a lot of interest for tailoring the system for a wider range of truck sizes and applications. And we have plans in place to conduct a pilot program for the utility market later this year.”

The Bottom Line
Since tire inflation is a critical factor to reducing fuel consumption and overall fleet operational costs, it’s likely that some form of self-inflating tire technology will gain widespread market acceptance. But when? And will the systems of the future look more like Goodyear’s AMT that is integrated within each tire or Aperia’s Halo that is bolted on to the axle hub outside the tire? Or will there be a new, even more effective approach to solving this problem? Keep your eye on this space.

About the Author: Sean M. Lyden is a nationally recognized journalist and feature writer for a wide range of automotive and trucking trade publications, covering fleet management strategies, light- and medium-duty trucks, truck bodies and equipment, and green fuel technologies. He blogs at Strategy + Writing (

Tire Expenses: Manage to Minimize

Effective management of tire costs is more important now than ever and will continue to grow in importance, but if you are not able to accurately measure what your fleet spends on tires, there is no way you will be able to manage those expenses. Unfortunately, many fleets have not initiated a comprehensive tire management program, nor do they accurately know the expense they incur for tires.

“At the end of the day, it is cost per 1/32nd of tread wear per mile, but most people do not have that information,” said Darry Stuart, president and CEO of DWS Fleet Management Services ( “The best way to accurately account for tires is to use a good computerized system and charge tires by 32nds as they go on and credit tires the 32nds when they come off. Also, most fleets include the cost of tires in the cost of a new truck, therefore failing to include those tires when they are calculating their tire cost per mile.”

Programs that do this kind of accounting are available and have been designed to interact seamlessly with most computerized maintenance management systems. Services are also available through tire vendors who will input fleet tire data, then store and analyze it. Goodyear (, for example, recently launched a next-generation version of its TVTrack program that is designed to do exactly what needs to be done if fleet tire costs are to be managed. It is available through the company’s dealer network and will accept and analyze cradle-to-grave financial information about any brand of tire.

Retread tires deserve to be included in all commercial fleet tire programs. Many fleets operating Class 3 through 6 vehicles already use retreads, and due to economic pressures over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in the use of these products among fleets not using them. “There has definitely been an increased interest in using retreads,” said Guy Walenga, director of engineering for commercial products at Bridgestone Firestone ( “You could say people have found religion. They have been looking for any place where they can save some money. Many fleets that never considered retreading before have taken another look at the use of retreads because it is such a good way to influence the overall cost per mile.”

Fleet managers need to realize there is no definite age limit on the life of a tire carcass. Steel body plies and steel-belted commercial tires are designed to be retreaded. Every casing that goes into a reputable retread shop will be inspected visually and with a nondestructive testing system that will find any nail holes invisible to the naked eye. They are also put through X-ray tests to find ply separations.

“Because each tire casing goes through this extended inspection process, there is no time frame that would limit the casing for retreading,” Walenga said. “A retreader is liable for the quality and performance of his product. As a result, he’s not going to put a dime of unnecessary expense into a tire that isn’t going to retread and perform for his customer. He does all of his testing before he buffs the tire.”

The high cost of tires has caused an increased interest in recapping in heavy-duty fleets that had not taken advantage of this proven technology. Fleets that regularly use recapped tires are looking to get another cap or two on their casings. Many fleet managers recapped a casing only until it was about 5 years old, and then sold it instead of capping it again.

That strategy is changing. “Some years ago, most fleet managers would take a casing out of service after about five years,” Stuart said. “That increased to six years and now, in many cases, is at seven years and in some cases eight years. The strategy has been working well, but the applications those older casings go into need to be managed. If the tire is going to be used in a low-mileage trailer application, 40,000 or 50,000 miles a year, it will very likely offer you no problems. Capping technology has also improved, helping to make this strategy possible.”

Ryder System ( has a policy of not going down to the legal limit for its over-the-road units. “The DOT legal is 2/32, but we target 4/32, which gives us a little bit of room to plan the replacement,” said Scott Perry, Ryder’s vice president of supply management. “We recognize the importance of the casing and not wearing the tread package too thin. Our customers are on full-service leases so they will bring their trucks into our service facilities on a regular basis, and our goal is to perform as much of the required maintenance on our leased vehicles at our facilities as possible. As a result, we have multiple touch points throughout the year. Because of that, we can predict when the tires will need to be removed from the vehicle.” Consequently, it’s a scheduled procedure and not a road call.

Air Pressure
Inflation pressure is always the most important factor of tire maintenance relative to tire costs. Correct inflation will help to maximize a casing’s retreadability while minimizing wear and the tire’s negative contribution to fuel economy rolling resistance. “If you don’t have the right air pressure, you’re giving up tread mileage, giving up casing durability and you’re giving up fuel economy,” Walenga said. “A casing can be destroyed if it is run at the wrong air pressure.”

Tires will always be an expensive commodity for fleets, so it makes sense to do everything you can to control costs. Maximize the life of every casing, and when a tire comes out of service, make sure you know why. Use retreads. Keep tires aired to the correct pressure. If you’re not doing this, you’re wasting money.

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Co. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.

Up and Running

Who gets utility trucks that have been immobilized by tire problems up and running again so utility response crews can resume their important work of restoring gas, electricity and other services following severe weather incidents?

In many cases, the unsung heroes in this process are tire dealers whose service technicians rush to downed utility trucks to repair – and in some instances, replace – tires that have been damaged by storm-generated debris and other items strewn across roads and highways.

The key piece is connecting these tire dealers to utility service trucks whose drivers want to get back on the road. This is where Goodyear’s new Storm Priority program enters the picture.

A Top Priority
The Goodyear Storm Priority program was created to make utility truck tire service a top priority because we know that when severe weather strikes, there is no time to waste. Every minute counts, not just for affected citizens who have lost access to critical utilities, but also for the utility companies that send trucks to storm-ravaged areas.

Goodyear Storm Priority takes the hassle out of tire dealer technician deployment. To access the service during and after power outages and other emergency situations – or while their trucks are on the way to and from power restoration efforts – utility fleets simply call a dedicated line: 1-855-STORMHQ. Also, as we know, utility trucks can experience tire-related issues while traveling outside of their home markets; Goodyear Storm Priority can assist trucks in this situation, too.

Calls that come in through the 1-855-STORMHQ number are considered high-priority and are immediately routed to the 24/7 Goodyear Solution Center, where trained tire professionals capture vital information, including the location of the caller’s downed truck. The agents who staff the Goodyear Solution Center are more than voices on the other end of the phone – they receive intensive tire training, are familiar with vehicles and tire applications, and understand the seriousness of the situation.

After collecting the necessary information, the Solution Center professionals will locate and dispatch a service technician from the nearest participating Goodyear commercial truck tire dealer to the incapacitated utility truck’s exact location. The technician will assess the truck’s tire condition and render the tire service in order to remedy the issue.

The size and scope of Goodyear’s service network – more than 2,200 locations across North America – mean that a servicing dealer is never too far away, another advantage for fleets that travel great distances to assist with power restoration. Deploying trucks from your base of operation in Pennsylvania to a hurricane-impacted section of Florida? You’ll have coverage.

Utility fleets of all sizes and configurations can access Goodyear Storm Priority at no cost by dialing 1-855-STORMHQ.

Package Deal
At Goodyear, there’s more to service than simply repairing a tire and then sending a truck on its way. We’ve developed a comprehensive suite of products, services and profitability tools to help fleets – including those in the utility industry – lower their total cost of operations. We refer to this as Goodyear’s Total Package Solution, and our Goodyear-FleetHQ program is a big part of that.

Since its inception, Goodyear-FleetHQ, of which the 24/7 Goodyear Solution Center is an important component, has put more than 750,000 trucks of all types and classifications back on the road.

Emergency road service is just one piece of this holistic approach. In the fleet management business, knowledge is power. The better the data at its fingertips, the more efficiently a fleet can manage its assets, including the tires on its trucks. To give fleets access to as much information about their tires as possible, Goodyear-FleetHQ offers Tire Trac, a dynamic online tool that monitors the performance of a fleet’s tires, as well as the fleet’s service history – collecting, documenting and presenting key data in an easy-to-access format.

Through Tire Trac, utility fleets can zero in on an individual tire, or review the performance of their tires throughout their entire operation. This gives fleets the ability to compare cost-per-mile in different regions, and even identify issues that need to be corrected. Tire Trac also enables fleets to see details related to individual roadside service calls, including cost.

In addition, it gives fleets visibility into roll-time, the amount of time between the moment a truck driver calls Goodyear-FleetHQ and the moment his or her truck returns to service. Roll-time is the No. 1 critical area identified by fleets, and Goodyear-FleetHQ offers the best roll-time in the trucking industry: on average, just two hours and 11 minutes.

Tire Trac lets fleets see the details of their tire and service purchases as well. They can benchmark their spending against the last couple of months, or even years, and run reports by tire type, size and location.

It’s crucial for utility fleets to leverage as much information as possible so they can be even better prepared to respond to severe weather incidents and other emergency situations. In light of the unpredictable weather that many parts of North America have experienced, optimal preparedness makes good sense, and will help utility crews carry out their vital work, which impacts so many people’s lives.

About the Author: Jose Martinez is the business and digital solutions manager for Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems.

Changing Brakes

A primary concern of every fleet professional is the safe operation and stopping ability of the vehicles in his fleet. A truck’s ability to stop, of course, depends on the condition and quality of its braking system, particularly its brakes’ friction material. The friction material used in truck brakes has changed a great deal over the last few decades and continues to change. As an integral part of the braking system, friction material must be chosen to provide the stopping power necessary in a truck’s specific application. This is especially true for commercial vehicles since any given truck model may be put into a wide range of applications. Light-duty vehicles, however, may well benefit from the use of other-than-normal friction material. Consider, for example, police cruisers that may be used in high-speed pursuits with heavy braking demands.

Replacing Asbestos
Years ago, asbestos friction material was commonly used in vehicle braking systems – commercial trucks in particular – because of its ability to withstand the high operating temperatures that could be generated in stopping a heavy vehicle. Indeed, temperatures more than 2,000 F created a substantial fire hazard. The health hazards of asbestos, however, have all but eliminated its use in friction materials intended for vehicle applications. Although domestic manufacturers claim that asbestos materials are no longer used in friction products, foreign manufacturers of aftermarket brake parts have no requirement to stop distributing asbestos friction material. OSHA regulates the amount of asbestos dust that is present in vehicle repair facilities, which is where potential problems are found.

Ceramic or non-asbestos organic friction materials were developed to replace asbestos-based products in specific applications. These materials typically exhibit low friction and/or unacceptable wear rates at high temperatures and are very useful in light-duty applications, but are not suitable in many commercial and most heavy-duty operations.

Semi-metallic material was developed, along with ceramic material, to replace asbestos. In comparing the two, Kevin Judge, sales manager of national accounts at Fras-le (, a major manufacturer of semi-metallic and ceramic friction material, said, “Semi-metallic material is a bit more aggressive, but can be more noisy than ceramic material. The performance, however, of semi-metallic material makes it a desirable product for use in trucks as well as automobiles used in applications that need high-performance braking performance. It has become the standard for use by the trucking industry.”

More Changes Coming
As a result of environmental concerns, two states have passed legislation that nearly eliminates the use of copper, in addition to several other materials, in friction material. Three years ago, both California and Washington passed laws mandating that friction material used in brakes contain no more than 0.5 percent of copper by weight. While various portions of the laws take effect at different times, they have spurred the industry to develop compliant materials that will deliver satisfactory stopping performance. “As an industry, we are being challenged in going copper-free after 2019,” Judge said.

Not surprisingly, these laws put additional financial burdens on manufacturers and distributors. They may well be enough to cause some suppliers to leave the business, resulting in fewer product choices for fleets.

Brake Repairs
While fleet managers seek a long service life from brakes, they also know that brake pads and blocks will wear out and need to be replaced. Be sure to do your homework before you go to market. “Fleet managers should be prepared to accurately describe their fleet’s applications when they go to market to purchase replacement brake pads or brake linings,” Judge said. “Terrain is important. The hills of Pittsburgh require different material than the flatlands in Des Moines. They should be aware of the load that they’re carrying. Is it a constant load? Is going to be variable? Is it going to be loaded off and on? Will the application be stop-and-go, or will it be over-the-road? This is the kind of information that brake service technicians need to know before they can make good recommendations regarding friction material.”

If you plan on making a change in friction material of replacement pads or liners, test the material before making a purchase. It’s not unreasonable for a fleet manager to request sample material for his own tests. Judge said that he often gets asked for samples. Tim Bauer, director for undercarriage products at Meritor Aftermarket (, concurs. “Always test the friction material you’re considering purchasing,” he said. “Look at long-term replacement [cost versus price]. Be wary of container loads of low-price friction. Do they meet safety standards like FMVSS 121? What kind of warranty is offered? Who will back you up in the case of a failure or other problems?”

Bauer also urges that you never replace or service a component on one wheel end only; always do both wheel ends. This is especially true for work on front axles. In addition, if hardware comes packaged with replacement brake pads or linings, use it. “Don’t forget your hardware works just as hard as the linings,” Judge said.

Anytime a technician pulls a wheel, have him measure the thickness of the pad or lining as well as the run-out of the rotor or drum. Have him inspect the hoses to make sure they’re not worn or frayed, and ask him to check all the hardware to ensure it’s in good shape.

Because friction material is just one piece of a very important system comprised of parts designed to work together, when it comes time to replace it due to wear, it should be replaced with material that is as close to original as is possible or with material that you have tested to ensure satisfactory operation in your application.

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Co. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.

Tire and Retread Programs

Tires are valuable and costly assets. An effective tire maintenance program can result in reduced tire costs. Some of the best resources for utility fleets are available from suppliers.

Bridgestone Americas
Bridgestone Commercial Solutions Fleet Management Services can personalize a tire program to address specific tire management issues. Fleet analysis and inventory reports, tire and equipment inspection programs, out-of-service tire analysis and nonretreadable tire reports are all included.

Fleet analyzer reports offered by Bridgestone Bandag are available using diagnostic software that provides accurate, customized reports on in-service tire inspections, out-of-service tire analysis, performance tracking and vehicle inspections. Fleet inventory reports give a view of tire inventory across the Bridgestone Bandag network to help improve tire management and reduce costs.

Also available from Bridgestone is an in-service tire inspection that provides a snapshot of the current condition of tires and wheels in a fleet. Tread depth, air pressure, tire conditions and observed issues with wheels are covered in the on-site assessment. The manufacturer also offers courses developed by its Truck Tires Learning Center specifically for fleet technicians, covering proper nail hole repairs and advanced tire analysis. Additional fleet services may be available from local dealers, including mounted wheel service, wheel and rim refinishing, and yard checks. Visit

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Goodyear fleetHQ provides custom service, product solutions, detailed reporting and tire evaluation tools. It consolidates information from road service histories that can be accessed online. Tools available to help evaluate tire costs and optimize tire programs include TVTrack for tracking performance of specific tires linked to vehicle parameters. Tire Value Calc uses actual fleet performance data, as well as tire and retread price records, to find out how tire, retread and rotation changes can impact operating costs.

The fleetHQ Solution Center provides emergency roadside service with a roll time goal of two hours or less. The center offers access to more than 2,000 service locations nationwide. Visit

Michelin Americas Truck Tires
The Michelin Advantage Program includes competitive pricing on Michelin truck tires, retreads and services. Also offered is Michelin ONCall emergency road service.

Business tools included in the Michelin Advantage Program are available on a member website where fleets can check pricing, order tires, manage accounts and view invoices. Training, technical documents, maintenance techniques and webcasts to help improve tire performance are also available. Visit

Hidden Treasure
A tire scrap pile can be a gold mine of information. Going through a scrap pile and looking at tires can help find ways to adjust tire choices or maintenance practices.

All truck tire manufacturers agree that effectively analyzing scrap tires can lead to improvements in tire life and lower costs. They also universally point to the “Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide” published by the Technology & Maintenance Council as one of the best resources for fleets.

The TMC guide is reviewed and updated by manufacturers every three years. Included are technical details about various tire failure conditions and their causes, along with photos of commonly seen wear and failure conditions and recommended steps to resolve issues.

TMC also offers the “Radial Tire & Disc Wheel Service Manual,” which is a compendium of recommended practices associated with tires and wheel ends. It addresses critical service procedures for radial tires and disc wheels used on medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Visit

Goodyear fleetHQ Solution Center

Introduced three years ago, the Goodyear fleetHQ Solution Center combines emergency road services with a portfolio of business solutions. Included are online information systems providing 24/7 access to service in progress, retread history, repair data and tire purchase history.

Designed to save fleet managers administrative time, Goodyear fleetHQ quickly connects fleets with more than 1,800 locations in the fleetHQ Servicing Dealer Network for tire-related emergency road assistance. Fleet users signed up for the free service – offered without enrollment or incidence fees – pay the same price for tires on the road that they do at their own facilities.

Fleet customers of fleetHQ can also establish complete portfolios listing all tires installed on all of their trucks, streamlining the road service process by providing the exact type, brand and size of tire needed for replacement.

“In 2010, the Goodyear fleetHQ Solution Center helped more than 164,000 customers, a nearly 60 percent increase over 2009,” said Tony Starling, general manager of fleetHQ. Fast response time for emergency roadside service, multiple business tools and ease of use are major reasons why the program has more than 20,000 customers enrolled.”

Visit for more information.