How to be a truck tire know-it-all

By Paul Abelson, senior technical editor and Sandi Soendker, editor-in-chief

The Internet is a fabulous place to learn about tires and to get useful information in a flash. The major tire manufacturers appear to be engaged in a no-holds-barred contest to be the most resourceful website. If so, the winners in this competition would be tire buyers like you.

Bridgestone, for example, publishes clear, concise tables for each tire size. Pressures shown in 5 psi increments are linked to corresponding maximum loads. Let’s look at two tires, a 275/70R22.5 low profile and a full-height 11R22.5. Both are popular among owner-operators.

Let’s look at a 80,000-pound five-axle rig. It’s loaded to 6,000 pounds on each steer tire and 4,250 on each drive and trailer tire. At 100 psi, the 275/70R22.5 has a maximum load of 5,625 pounds per steer tire. That’s not quite enough. The load at 100 psi is 5,525 on the others – significantly overinflated for the load. Proper inflation would be 110 psi in the steers and only 75 to 80 in the drive and trailer tires. For the 11R22.5, you can get the job done with 105 psi in the steers and 75 psi in all the others.

On Yokohoma’s website, you don’t have to look up load tables. You can simply plug the specifications for your truck and tires into Yokohama’s Inflation Pressure Calculator. Enter tire size; weight per tractor, trailer and steer axle; and whether you run single or tandem axles. Then hit “Calculate” and you’ll get recommended pressures.

Yokohama also has a Tire Inspection Guide with photos of abnormally worn tires with descriptions, causes and corrections. Five stars for this feature.

Goodyear shows off innovative products, a fuel savings calculator and profitability tools. Fuel being one of the biggest expenses trucking businesses face, Goodyear has a fuel economy resource section that will likely have you coming back for updated info. While many tire websites offer service manuals to download, we liked Goodyear’s as it can be downloaded by section. Handy.

Bridgestone has its popular “Real Answers” online with a wealth of tire articles.

Continental also has a series of articles, such as “Sidewalls and Ozone.”

But there’s so much more. Go to continental-truck.com and you get a graphic eyeful and some thumpin’ good driving music. You can tell they are proud tire sponsors of the Meritor ChampTruck World Series. We also liked the easy-to-read menu. Continental has rounded up some major resources here.

Hop over to Michelin and you’ll find nice graphics and a wealth of info, too. Keep in mind that the objective of website pages is to sell products by providing useful information. Michelin has a series of interactive calculations showing weight savings with their X-One line, rolling-resistance comparisons, mileage, fuel and, of course, tire cost calculations.

A special note on rolling-resistance tires. With the EPA and NHTSA pushing for them to take a starring role in greenhouse gas reduction and fuel efficiency, you may be digging for info and wanting a real cost savings comparison. Along with Michelin, a number of tire websites have these. We liked Michelin’s and Bridgestone’s for their simplicity.

Among the new tools introduced by Roadmaster tires – engineered by Cooper Tires – is a trucker-friendly website that features interactive product information, so it’s easy to select the right tire for the right use. You don’t have to be a master surfer to use this site. Like most, there is a dealer locator to quickly and easily pinpoint where to purchase Roadmaster tires. Catering to the on-the-road lifestyle of Roadmaster customers and dealers, the website is available in a mobile version as well.

We can’t review tire websites without acknowledging that they offer up history lessons, too. Some of our tire companies have long histories and have developed products that revolutionized transportation.

Do you think that Harvey Firestone, a fourth-generation farmer from Columbiana, Ohio, who founded Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1900, could have even conceived that the company would be connecting to its customers via another kind of highway? The Firestone website features a fascinating history of the company and of a man who helped shape society. A gold award to them in the history category.

The Internet is an outstanding source of information, not just about tires but about every part and component on your truck. A national retailer used to advertise, “An educated consumer is our most important customer.”

That certainly applies to truck tire buyers. LL