Keeping Tires Cool in the Heat of Summer

(Image: Fleet Equipment)

As a kid, you’ve probably experienced the adventure of crossing over the hot pavement during the summer months.  Walking on one’s heals in a rapid penguin shuffle is a common approach to surviving the journey. In those desperate times, sitting on the ground with your feet temporarily lifted off the scorching ground provides a brief respite – at least until other less toughened areas insist on action to move on.

There is little question that the road surface temperatures on bright sunny days are significantly higher than the air temperature. Not surprisingly, such weather conditions place additional demands on overall vehicle operation. Tires, being in direct contact with the higher temperature road surfaces, face additional stress and need to be regularly inspected to help avoid tire failure.

There are several inspection points to help keep tires operating smoothly:

  • Tire inflation pressure – Tires that are underinflated will increase the tire temperature during operation, increasing the risk of tire failure. In addition, over-inflation can cause wear issues and also present increased chance of blow-out when striking potholes or other objects. It is important to recognize that tire pressures increase as the tire temperature increases. It is recommended to consult vehicle and tire service information to determine the correct tire pressure checking procedures and specifications.
  • Incorrect wear patterns – Inspect tires for uneven wear patterns or other damage. Incorrect wear patterns could point to other issues with the vehicle. In general, improper tire inflation will result in side wear on both the inboard and outboard tread surfaces; however, overinflation will cause wear in the center of the tire. But other wear patterns, such as feathering or cupping, are likely the result of suspension or steering component damage or wear. Tire wear or damage can also be affected by the road conditions. Steeply angled road surfaces may bring about uneven tire wear from the lateral forces placed on the tires. Review and follow service information concerning tire wear and replacement recommendations.
  • Dual tire configurations –  It is important to note that mismatched tires place additional stress on the tires. Variation in tire diameter means that the greater diameter tire must support the greater portion of the load between the dual tires. The dual tire diameters need to be measured to determine if the difference between the tires is within specification.
  • Wheel damage –  Wheels do get bent and cracked during operation, so it’s important to keep an eye on wear-and-tear. Another potential area for wheel damage is the mounting holes. The wheel lug holes can become damaged from overtightening and wearing the tightening surface out. Furthermore, wheel lugs that are loose or unevenly tightened could result in cracks in the wheel mounting surface.

Hot weather does present challenges to the tires. Of course, the tires are the direct connection between the truck and the road, and therefore, they demand vigilant attention in every operating condition. It is wise to consult the appropriate service information to ensure tires are receiving all the attention they deserve.

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About the Author

Jake Schell

Jake Schell is the Associate Product Manager for Mitchell 1’s commercial vehicle product line. He has been with Mitchell 1 since 2001. Prior to coming to Mitchell 1, Jake spent 20 years as a technician, with Chevrolet Master certification in the transmission category as well as ASE certifications in both car and truck.