To minimize downtime and cost of ownership while maximizing profitability, the selection of premium tires, specifically designed for the application, is the prudent path to follow.

By Phil Boarts and Michael Burroughes

Refuse trucks have a challenging job. These trucks are expected to operate in the heat of summer and in the cold of winter during snow and ice events. They may have to operate on paved city streets where curbs and high scrub conditions are the enemy, or they may operate on a rural route with unpaved roads or in landfills where they may encounter rocks, debris and sharp objects. The trucks may be driven by many different drivers with varied levels of experience.

The trucks leave their depots pre-dawn with no load and hours later may be loaded to capacity or even over capacity. The trucks are starting and stopping all day long. This means that the tires for refuse trucks need to be able to carry the heavy loads and resist the abusive conditions endured by waste haul conditions or the tires can potentially be destroyed in a matter of months.
The dominant tire size in this market is 315/80R22.5, and given the relatively short tread life (due to the high scrub nature of the application), the “big value” comes from having a strong robust construction and a casing that will support multiple retreads. Waste haul operations demand a tire with deeper and wider treads in order to extend tread life in a waste collection application. The tire needs to be engineered with heavier beads, reinforced sidewalls and special tread compounds featuring chip, cut, scrub and puncture resistance.

When choosing a waste haul tire, the route, vehicle type and local weather conditions must be taken into account. The correct selection will help with longer tread life, reduced downtime and increased profitability.

The Basics
Proper tire maintenance will also play a big role in extending the life of the tire asset.

#1: Check the Air Pressure
Every fleet shop should have a master air gauge and every driver should have an accurate pressure gauge and be instructed to check the tires on their truck every day during the pre- trip inspection. A tire that is run 10 percent underinflated will lose 10 percent in tread wear and will come out of service quicker.

A tire that is 20 percent below the optimal air pressure is considered a flat tire. A tire that is run under these conditions will experience casing fatigue that could lead to a catastrophic failure or a zipper rupture. If the tire has been run 20 percent underinflated, it should be removed from the vehicle and scrapped. Under CSA guidelines, a tire that is found to be operating with less than 50 percent of the maximum pressure (sidewall) is an out of service condition.

#2: Tire/Wheel Alignment
Many tire problems can be traced to mechanical conditions in the vehicle. Therefore, to obtain maximized tire performance, vehicles must be properly maintained, including alignment. Alignment refers not only to the various angles of the steer axle geometry, but also to the tracking of all axles on a vehicle, including the trailer if a waste fleet is using trailers for long distance transport. Improper air pressure, mis-aligned equipment and inappropriate use of a tire/retread design for a particular application can limit miles of a tire. The dual purpose of proper alignment is to minimize tire wear and to maximize predictable vehicle handling and driver control. Toe misalignment is the number one cause of steer tire irregular wear, followed by rear axle skew (parallelism or thrust).

#3: Tire Matching/Rotation
Beware of mixing tires on your vehicle, especially across an axle. Try to match tires with the same tread depths, same tread patterns and same height (or diameter). Radial tires should be rotated when necessary. If the tires are wearing evenly, there is no need to rotate. If irregular wear becomes apparent or if the wear rate on the tires is perceptively different (from axle to axle for drive tires and side to side for steer tires), then the tires should be rotated in such a manner as to alleviate the condition.

#4: Brake Adjustment/Maintenance
The older drum brake systems are challenged by the demanding start-stop application and should be monitored. Excessive brake heat can lead to degradation of the bead area reducing future retread opportunities and even lead to possible tire failure. Disc brakes are rapidly being adopted, which greatly reduces the heat generation from constantly stopping.

Keys to Tire Maintenance
In tire maintenance, there are several key components that make up an effective cradle to grave tire management program. These include:
• Choosing a new tire that provides the best performance for your vehicles and your specific applications. Tires/retreads running on refuse trucks measure tire life by the “hour”, while tires/retreads running on a line-haul truck measure tire life in 100,000-mile increments. All other fleets most likely measure with a method in-between the two.
• Using the retread product/s that provides the best performance for your vehicles and applications. These might or might not be duplicates of the new tire of choice. A tire from a refuse or waste fleet can be retreaded four, five, six or more times (or more depending on the casing integrity and the fleet maintenance practices), while a tire running on a line-haul fleet might only get retreaded once or twice depending on their maintenance policy.
• Develop a maintenance program/policy that incorporates aspects listed previously as possible elements. Work with a tire supplier you can trust and that provides reliable service.
• Retreading and having a good tire/retread maintenance program, allow a fleet to get maximum value out of their tire programs.
• Replacement tire and retread cost is determined by many factors including the price of raw materials, the volume sold in each category, purchase mix and quality. It will also vary among dealers.
• Cost is a significant advantage of retreading and the reason they have been popular for many years. There are many different types and quality of retreads now available. The retread processes and products have significantly advanced during the last 20 to 25 years and deliver measurable value to fleet customers. For the fleets that choose to retread, they can save themselves significant amounts of money when managed properly. Retreads can perform similar to a new tire for much less.
• Each fleet has its specific requirements of what it is looking for in a retread. It depends on the fleet’s type of operation, casing management, turnaround time, needs availability of the necessary product, level of dealer service, online reporting needs and fleet location. In the long run, retreads offer excellent mobility solutions that can lead to cost savings and environmental benefits.

Maximize Profitability
To minimize downtime and cost of ownership while maximizing profitability, the selection of premium tires specifically designed for the application is the prudent path to follow. Buy good quality new tires and retread products. Use a local tire dealer with whom you have a good relationship and provides the service you need. Air pressure should be checked every work day without fail. Optimum success is achieved through the implementation of a rigorous maintenance schedule and a relationship with a quality retreader who offers products that are commensurate with the new tire selection. Retread your casings as many times as your retreader feels are appropriate. Teach your drivers the importance of checking their tires every day before leaving the yard. Have a specific maintenance program that fits your fleet and make sure it is practiced.

Phil Boarts is Product Category Manager – Retread for Michelin North America (Greenville, SC). Phil has more than 40 years of experience in the commercial tire business with various positions in sales, marketing and management. He joined Oliver Rubber in 1993 and transferred to Michelin when they acquired Oliver in 2007. Phil can be reached at

Michael Burroughes is Product Category Manager – Urban, Michelin North America. Michael has worked for Michelin for more than 40 years. Starting in a variety of sales positions in Canada, he moved to Michelin’s headquarters in Greenville, SC in 2000. He has held a number of marketing positions in the truck and agricultural product lines including an expatriation assignment to China for four years as the product marketing manager for the truck tire product line. Michael can be reached at