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With tires presenting a significant expense for school districts, it is important to have solid maintenance practices in place to get as much use out of them as possible.
Phil Mosier, the manager of commercial tire development for Cooper Tire, points to several factors that contribute to tire wear-and-tear.
“Every school district will be different as to how hard they are on their bus tires — the type of roads, obstacles encountered, weather conditions, and how the driver operates the bus, all come into play to determine a tire’s life,” he said.
Here are 3 rules Mosier has listed to follow to properly take care of your school bus tires.
The number-one tip for longer tire life, hands-down, is maintaining proper inflation. The appropriate inflation figure should be determined by a scale weight by axle and then using a load/inflation table. For example, typically on a Blue Bird school bus, inflation levels for an 11R22.5 Load Range G are set at 105 psi. However, bus owners should plan to do their own inflation figure calculations for each bus model as the details vary.
It is also important to note that mismatched inflation pressure on dual assemblies is a substantial contributor to faster tire wear.
The second tip addresses the need for visual inspections. Begin by looking at the sidewall facing out.
“It’s not uncommon to find some scuff or scrub marks, typically on the right-side tires due to right-hand turning where curbs are present, but what you’re really looking for is cracks, bulges or bubbles, and cuts,” he says.
Next, inspect the crown or tread area. Look for any road hazards such as nails, screws, or metal or missing sections of tread. Make sure the cords are not showing
The third tip for optimal tire maintenance is to conduct regular tire rotations. Regular rotations can help get more miles out of every tire, putting off replacement.
“You really have to stay on top of rotations, especially in the positions where irregular tread wear can occur,” he says.
Following these tips will not only optimize tire life but will also position the tire casings to be in good shape for retreading, which can help contain maintenance costs.