When the rubber meets the road, your drive tires are the position putting in serious work to support your truck, provide stability and to give traction and braking force to the road’s surface. Drive tires transfer the force from the drive train to the ground and can even carry the payload based on the position of the fifth wheel.
With so much weight to support – keep in mind a fully loaded truck and trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds – drive tires are designed to withstand the challenges of their workhorse position and help carry that load. They often come equipped with extra protections against curbing, scrubbing, chipping and cutting. Some also have stone ejectors to protect the casing and enable retreadability. Grooves and sipes are common on drive tires to add toughness and to provide additional traction in all weather. Aggressive treads, including deeper block or lug type treads with depths between 24/32 and 30/32 are also common on drive tires.
While there are characteristics that good drive tires share, drives are not a one tread fits all position. Due to the diversity of equipment, applications and operating environments, determining the correct tire for the application can mean longer mileage and a better life cycle cost per tire.
Some focus on getting the best fuel economy out of their drives, while others concentrate on maximizing their cost per mile with superior traction. When the snow flies, however, traction becomes even more important. That is why it is especially important to run on a reliable set of drives in the winter.
As with other positions, drive tires should be inspected regularly. That includes checking inflation based on your load, wear patterns and for cracking and bulging. Drive tires can slip because of the torque applied from the axle, resulting in more exposure to damage from cuts and tears. It is important to keep the axels aligned, and if necessary balance the tires. Rotating periodically can improve the mileage as well.
Before you hit the road for your next route, take the time to inspect your drive tires. If you have any uncertainty in their ability to handle the road ahead, stop into a TA Truck Service facility and talk to one of our tire experts.