Technology in the world of truck tires

Technology is taking over the trucking industry. That much is clear across every aspect of the truck—from the state-of-the-art features of the engine to the tracking software that lets you know where your trailer is at all times. Naturally, it’s true for the tires as well. It might not be the most immediate area you think of when it comes to sexy new technology, but there’s a lot going on in the tire technology segment to make fleet managers’ lives easier. Consider this a primer on today’s truck tire technology.

Under pressure

One of the biggest areas of tire technology is in inflation systems, whether they are automatic tire inflation systems (ATIS) or tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). FEpublished a big story on this topic in the May issue, so we won’t get into too many of the details here, but here are some of the basics on what these systems offer.

Many interviewed agreed that under-inflation is the biggest issue in the truck tire industry, and that over-inflation is also a major hindrance for fleets looking to maximize efficiency. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies show a 10% longer tire life with tire inflation systems.

“It is estimated that up to 85% of blowouts could be prevented if tires were properly inflated. While the number one problem with trailer tires is under-inflation, over-inflation and mismatched duals also account for their share of trouble,” notes Matt Wilson, Hendrickson’s controls business unit manager.

But again: most of that information is in the May story, so we won’t go into details here. Instead, let’s go beyond ATIS and TPMS.

Beyond pressure management

There’s much more than just tire pressure software in the world of truck tire technology. Fleet management systems offer a host of options for fleet managers looking to get the most out of their tires. The tire experts interviewed for this story pointed to several areas of tire analytics and the benefits of tracking these aspects of the tires, including:

  1. Tracking tire wear, which can help identify any abnormal wear situations and help fleets know when it’s the right time to remove worn tires.
  2. Retread tracking; Eric Higgs, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations’ vice president of marketing for the commercial group U.S. and Canada, highlights the Bandag Alliance System (BASys) as an example of this. BASys tracks and reports on a fleet’s retread inventory and tire performance to ensure that fleets achieve maximum performance and treadwear from their casings.
  3. Further analytics, including tracking of tire pressure data, temperature, tread depth and wear, and possibly some predictive analytics. Sharon Cowart, product marketing director for Michelin Americas Truck Tires, notes that this kind of technology is still in its infancy. “Tire makers and other suppliers are beginning the process of leveraging existing and forthcoming data sets for analytics, TPMS data among them,” she says. “Some fleet management systems have tire modules included which provide basic features for tracking tire life cycle data, but true analytics requires systems that are far more robust. Michelin has one such initiative as part of our digitization effort to deliver predictive and prescriptive solutions for fleets.”

In the back office

Fleet managers have a multitude of dashboards that display data analytics. As more and more companies get into the technology game, each with their own systems, dashboards and hubs, simplicity can be a godsend.

Many potential benefits come from integration of tire technology systems, such as those that come with TPMS and ATIS, with existing telematics offerings. Last year, PeopleNet integrated with Continental’s ContiPressureCheck system to make it available to those fleets that have PeopleNet systems installed in their trucks. Eric Witty, vice president of product for PeopleNet, touts this as a useful step in making TPMS easier to access and understand.

“The integration between PeopleNet and Continental and other TPMS providers gives our customers two additional values,” Witty begins. “One is that the driver can get alerted and visually see in the cab when there is a tire problem and which tire it is, using the same PeopleNet display that is used for the rest of the driver’s activities. The other is that the data from the TPMS can be sent from the vehicle to the back office in near-real time to enable management and maintenance to take appropriate action when necessary.

“All of the TPMS that we integrate with allow both the driver and back-office personnel to continuously monitor the real-time pressure and temperature of their tires,” he adds.

Witty says that fleets will realize return on investment “pretty quickly.”

“Having an under- or over-inflated tire can be hazardous, potentially resulting in tire failure that at the very least would require repair or potentially cause an accident,” he says. “From that perspective, a TPMS can prove its value very quickly. While that might be an extreme example, a TPMS can also show its value over an extended period time. Proper tire pressure plays an important role in maximizing miles per gallon (MPG) and tire life for individual vehicles and across an entire fleet. A TPMS gives the visibility needed to ensure ideal pressure is achieved to lower fuel costs and reduce unnecessary tire wear.”

Read more about integrating your dashboards here.

Beyond tires

Increasingly, several tire companies are going beyond the tire, seeing themselves more as “mobility providers” than tire makers.

“Emerging trends such as electrification, autonomy and connectivity are profoundly shaping the future of the transportation industry and, ultimately, the way fleets do business,” Bridgestone’s Higgs says. “From integrated technologies to fuel efficiency gains, Bridgestone is looking at ways to make mobility more efficient for fleets.”

Among the trends Bridgestone has noticed, Higgs continues, are that fleets want to go farther carrying heavier loads using less fuel, and that fleets are looking for more savings with fuel-efficient retreads. Higgs added that Bridgestone is providing products based on these equipment trends, including low rolling resistance Ecopia tires and Bandag FuelTech retreads.

Adam Murphy, vice president of Michelin B2B, notes that Michelin sees itself as more of a mobility provider than a tire maker, and that the company began offering digital services and solutions in the past couple of years and is in the process of expanding that part of their business.

One example of a digital solution provided by Michelin, Murphy notes, is the Michelin OnCall service.

“Michelin OnCall is an emergency road service offer, the premise of which is basically to improve the uptime of our fleet customers by working with our network to be able to get them up and running more quickly when they have an emergency roadside event,” he explains. “If we can get them up and running in 120 minutes or less instead of where they were, at 150 or 160 minutes or so, then that’s a great example of us thinking more broadly about what their challenges are and bringing solutions beyond tires.”

In May, Michelin launched Energy Guard, which Murphy notes is “completely non-tire-related.”

“It’s an aerodynamic system that is also grounded in us talking to fleets about their ongoing desire to become more and more fuel-efficient, and they’re used to talking to us about the role of tires in that aspect via rolling resistance,” he explains. “But we came to feel the pain. As they were starting to deploy aerodynamic solutions, they were seeing the fuel savings that were promised, but a lot of those savings were being offset by increases in maintenance cost because in some cases the solutions weren’t very robust. Trucks are in and out of docks all day long. Skirts are getting damaged. Boat tails are getting damaged. Drivers hated some of those solutions because it’s a pain for the driver to have to navigate around boat tails, for example, as they’re loading and unloading or pulling in and out of docks. We said, we’ve got some expertise in aerodynamics. It’s come along with all the work we’ve done with fleets on improving fuel efficiency. We’ve acquired some intellectual property. We think we could do this in a much simpler way that still allows fleets to improve the efficiency of their operations from a fuel economy standpoint, but drivers are happy with it because it’s not disruptive. The maintenance team is happy with it because it’s a much more robust solution.”

Don’t you forget about application

TPMS, ATIS and other technology can be wonderfully helpful, but it is important not to forget the basics; for instance, the vital importance of spec’ing the right kind of tire for the application. All the technology in the world won’t matter if your equipment doesn’t match your application.

“Selecting tires designed specifically for each application is important, so fleets should evaluate tires in the specific operation where they are expected to run,” says Gary Schroeder, executive director of Cooper Tire’s global truck and bus tire business. “Using the proper tires can reduce the total cost of ownership for your tire program.”

“Periodic air checks and visual inspections are highly recommended,” says Rick Phillips, vice president of sales for Triangle Tire USA. “The application will determine the frequency with which the fleet should be inspecting their tires. The more severe the application, the more frequently someone will need to put eyes on the tires.”

Phillips also had specific advice for those spec’ing truck and bus tires. “Truck and bus radial (TBR) tires are designed to be installed in a specific position on the vehicle and to be used in a specific application,” he says. “The first step in getting the most out of your tire investment is to be sure you get the right product for the application, and the second step is to be sure it’s properly installed in the proper position on the vehicle. Then the ultimate step, of course, is to maintain the tire throughout its life cycle.”

DOT 3 Brake Fluid – Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice

DOT 3 Brake Fluid

DOT 3 Brake Fluid

What is DOT 3 Brake Fluid

DOT 3 brake fluid is a brake fluid that complies with the standards established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). To comply, the fluid must meet these criteria:

• The fluid must have a stable viscosity and be free flowing at all operating temperatures.

• DOT 3 brake fluid has DRY boiling point of 401°F and a wet boiling point of 284°F.

• Must be non-corrosive to all the metal, rubber and composite materials used in the brake system.

• The anti-corrosion additives must prevent corrosion or rust formation in the system.

• The fluid must have lubricating properties to inhibit wear to seals and other moving parts.

• The fluid must have very low compressibility.

DOT 3 Dry versus wet boiling points

Glycol-based brake fluids are hygroscopic, meaning they have an affinity for water. Even though the brake system is thought to be a “closed” system, moisture can still get in. First, every time a shop or driver opens the master cylinder reservoir, the fluid is exposed to moisture in the air. However, even if you never open the master cylinder, moisture can still get in. As the caliper piston and wheel cylinder pucks move in and out of the bore, pores in the metal can carry moisture into the brake system. Moisture can also penetrate through flexible brake hoses and seals.

Brake materials stop the vehicle by transforming motion into friction and then into heat. That heat can cause the moisture in brake fluid to boil and turn into steam. Since steam is compressible, moisture in the system can greatly reduce braking ability, causing the brake pedal to feel “spongy.”

Studies show that braking performance can drop significantly with just 3% water absorption. In fact, if the fluid contains 3% water, the boiling point drops to 212⁰F.

• The DRY boiling point specification is for fresh, uncontaminated fluid with no water absorption.

• The wet boiling point, is the point at which brake fluid will boil with a specific amount of water absorption. The technical term for this standard is the Equilibrium Reflux Boiling Point (ERBP).

How to measure brake fluid moisure

Use a refractometer or a battery powered tester

Battery powered brake fluid moisture tester

How to test brake fluid condition

Contrary to popular belief, color is NOT a good indication of brake fluid condition. You must check the fluid’s moisture level AND the fluid’s copper content. Metal brake lines are formed from flat steel and rolled into tubing. The seam is brazed. As the anti-corrosion additives wear out, the brazing deteriorates and shows up in the fluid as copper. Test strips are used to measure the copper content. When the copper content exceeds the test values, OR the fluid’s moisture content exceeds 2-3%, the fluid must be flushed to maintain proper braking and prevent further corrosion.

Brake fluid test strips test the state of anti-corrosion additives in the brake fluid by testing for copper content

DOT 3 versus DOT 4 viscosity

DOT 3 has a higher viscosity than DOT 4, meaning the two fluids are NOT interchangeable unless specified by the car maker. Even though DOT 4 has a higher boiling point, which may lead you to think it’s a “better” fluid, it’s lower viscosity may not be right for your particular vehicle.

Always install the recommended brake fluid type.

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

TPMS System – Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice

TPMS System

What is a TPMS System?

A TPMS System is required on all passenger cars, light trucks and light buses built after September 1, 2007. The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) detects tire pressure in one of two ways; direct and indirect.

History of TPMS systems

After a series of fatal sport utility vehicle crashes that resulted in 271 deaths, Congress passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000. The deaths were attributed to vehicles being driven with low tire pressure. The legislation required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a rule requiring all new vehicles to be equipped a warning system to alert the driver when a tire is significantly under-inflated.

The rule stated that as of Sept. 1, 2007, all new passenger vehicles, trucks and light buses are required to have a sensor-based TPMS system that alerts the driver of a condition where one or more tires is under-inflated by 25% below the car maker’s recommended tire pressure.

Prior to this legislation, some car makers voluntarily installed TPMS systems that were either indirect or direct. So the legislation ended the voluntary compliance are required all car makers to move to direct TPMS

Indirect TPMS

An indirect TPMS system uses the ABS system’s wheel speed sensors to detect an under inflation condition. An under inflated tire has a smaller diameter than a properly inflated tire. Since the ABS braking system compares the rate of rotation of all wheels, it can also detect when a wheel is consistently rotating fewer times per mile than the other tires. In these systems, the ABS system can light the low tire pressure waring light based on revolutions per mile

Direct TPMS

In a direct TPMS system, a tire pressure sensor with the valve

TPMS system sensor

Types of TPMS system sensor mounting: stem mount and band mount

stem is installed on the wheel rim in place of the older style rubber valve stem, or the sensor is installed on a band connected to the center of the rim.

The TPMS sensor reports via radio frequency to a receiver in the vehicle if the tire pressure falls below 25% of the car maker’s recommended tire pressure for that particular vehicle.

What is a TPMS sensor?

Most TPMS sensors are mounted in place of the valve stem and are held in place by a threaded nut. However, other types are held in place in the center of the wheel with a band. The TPMS sensor holds a pressure transducer, radio, battery and electronics. The battery has a projected lifespan of 7-10 years and is not replaceable because the entire unit is sealed in epoxy.

When the battery approaches its end of life, it sends a low battery signal to the receiver. At that point it must be replaced.

TPMS replacement cost

You do NOT have to return to the dealer for a TPMS replacement! Any tire store can fit an aftermarket sensor in your vehicle and program it to your car or truck. Aftermarket TPMS sensors typically cost about 1/3 less than an OEM sensor and they’re almost always made the same vendor. A TPMS sensor replacement from a tire store usually costs around $60 for the part and the labor is often free if it’s installed when you’re getting a new tire or a tire repair.

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


TPMS System