Tire Selection and Maintenance

March 28, 2019

The Rolling Rig

Keep a worry-free truck with these maintenance tips!

Tires are the hardest working part of your truck — the only part that makes constant contact with the road. Before you choose just any old tire set, you need to consider a few factors, including your truck’s application, size, and the terrain you drive on. International Used Truck Centers is here with some recommendations and information on how to best select new and used tires by size, weight, and performance,, as well as how to keep them in peak condition for longer!

What Are the Main Truck Tire Types?

What type of tire do you need? Learn more about the main types of commercial truck tires and their requirements below:

  • Steer Tires: Steer tires have shorter lifespans compared to drive tires and trailer tires, especially if they’re used in pickup and delivery applications. They perform best in the front (steer) position and transfer water away from under the tire’s surface to improve road grip. Because steer tires work hard, it’s best to choose heavy-duty tires with ribbed treads to keep water away.
  • All-Position Tires: All-position tires are designed for the steer axle, but can also be used on the drive and trailer axles.
  • Drive Tires: Drive tires are positioned behind the steer tires on the drive axle. These types of tires require siped or lug-type tread designs to give you greater traction on the road.
  • Trailer Tires: Trailer tires are positioned behind the drive tires at the back and help support the trailer’s weight. These types of tires need reinforced sidewalls to prevent damage should they hit a curb.
semi truck tire maintenance
mechanic with wrench

How to Select New and Used Tires

Whether you’re shopping for your truck or a fleet, it’s important to choose tires that meet the needs of your application while improving efficiency. Before you select new or used tires for your International, Freightliner, or Kenworth truck, considering the following:

  • Load Capacity: If you drive a model like the PROSTAR+ or CASCADIA, you can expect your tires to be strained. That’s why you need tires that are designed to handle heavy load capacities and can perform under stress. This helps to keep you safe, as well as others on the road. You’ll need to check the load index of the tire, which is written as a numerical code that specifies how much that tire can carry at the speed indicated by its speed symbol.
  • Off-Road Driving: You wouldn’t use tires designed for regular road travel to go off-roading in an SUV, so why do the same with your semi truck? Commercial tires designed for urban, highway, or regional applications simply don’t have tread strong enough to handle rocks, gravel, sand, and other unforgiving conditions. Even if you only spend a small amount of time traveling off the beaten path, consider tires that are 80% on-road and 20% off-road.

Tire Maintenance Tips

Proper tire maintenance is essential to the health of your tires, as well as your rig overall. Here are a few areas to check, double-check, and triple-check to make sure your truck’s tires are safe and in good condition:

  • Check Tire Inflation: Checking your tire pressure frequently after the tires have cooled down can help prolong their lifespans. How do you get the correct PSI? Weigh the truck fully loaded. The front, rear, and trailer axles should be weighed separately. Compare the axle weights with the manufacturer’s tire book to find the correct PSI. Make note of the load supported by the front-axle tires. You’ll need higher capacity tires if the actual scale weight is above the maximum load-carrying capacity.
  • Monitor Tire Wear: Friction is the culprit behind tire wear. Proper tire alignment, inflation, and load-carrying capacities are needed to ensure a tire’s tread is wearing evenly. Neglecting tire service can lead to irregular steer wear patterns, cuts, spin damage, stone retention, diagonal wear, and more.
  • Complete Regular Inspections: Inspecting your tires, as well as other truck components, is a requirement. Check for proper inflation. Tires that are 20% below their recommended PSI are flat and need to be replaced. Next, check the valve caps, tire wear patterns, sidewall conditions, lug nut conditions, and suspension components for any damage.

Learn More About Truck Maintenance from International Used Truck Centers

From maintaining your brakes, to properly maintaining diesel exhaust fluid, to winterizing your truck, and transmission maintenance, International Used Truck Centers is here to offer helpful suggestions on how to care for your rig. Have additional questions? Contact us today for answers!

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International Used Truck Center 41.776180, -88.200918.