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How Mismatched Tread Depths Can Ruin Your Commercial Truck Tires

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Given how much money it costs over the course of a year to keep a commercial vehicle’s tires in working order, any driver or fleet operator is going to want to minimize those costs.  Unfortunately, there’s one mistake we frequently see where people think they’re saving money, but they’re actually causing themselves more problems: Driving on mismatched or unevenly-worn commercial truck tires.

Often, this comes from having to replace one or more tires early -such as due to blowout- and deciding the remaining tires are “good enough” to keep driving on.

While that might be true in the short term, like finishing a particular long-haul, it’s actually much better for your commercial truck tires to keep them as closely-matched as possible.

How Mismatched Commercial Truck Tires Cause Bigger Problems

When the tread depth of a tire decreases, that means the overall size of the tire itself decreases as well.  The potential difference in size between a brand-new tire and one of the same models that has been worn down is often an inch or more. This can cause several issues.

  • First, there’s the obvious problem that this puts uneven strain on the tires themselves.  The worn-down tire must necessarily travel further and\or faster to keep up with the new tire, because its diameter has decreased.  So, in this situation, the worn tire will scrub and wear out even faster, which in turn greatly increases your cost of operating per mile.
  • In extreme situations, such as one where one side of a vehicle is significantly lower than the other side, this can even cause additional wear and lower lifespans for all tires involved.
  • The other big problem can come from 4WD or AWD vehicles with a drivetrain that relies on a differential to get constant velocity from all wheels – particularly those relying on computer monitoring of wheel speeds.  The differential systems which normally only engage on tight curves or slippery surfaces may end up running 100% of the time due to the wheels never having equal rotational speeds.  This will put huge extra burdens on your drivetrain and axles, greatly reducing their lifespan and increasing the odds of mechanical failure.

Play It Safe with Your Tires

Mismatched tire wear or tread depth can cause significant damage to your vehicles.  Contact your local STTC for more information on protecting your commercial truck tires.

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