Neglected or damaged tires on any vehicle can be hazardous to more than just one vehicle or person on roadways, this is especially concerning when it is an 18-wheeler involved because of their size and weight. Do not take any risks. It is important to make time before each trip, short or long, to properly inspect all tires.
To prepare for your inspection you will need appropriate materials like chalk, pliers, an air and a tread depth gauge, a 3/8-inch bulge gauge, a blunt probe and a box of valve caps.
Check each tire starting from the front drivers’ side, work yourself to the back of the vehicle and then up to the passengers’ side tire. Use your chalk to mark the tires which are concerning and need to be serviced or replaced.
Look at each axle and confirm all tires are the same size and either bias or radial, but not both. Also keep in mind that re-grooved tires cannot be on steering axles. Examine the tires inner and outer walls as well as the treads for visible cording. inspect swells using the bulge gauge and the blunt probe for perforations. You can remove any object without having to remove the tire if there was no leak caused. Be sure the air pressure is in accordance to the tire and that the valve cap in on. If a leak cannot be determined by hearing or feeling, then you can pour soap water over the tire, or punctured area, and be observant of any directed bubbling. Beware of vehicle maintenance signs through uncharacteristic wear and tear on tires. If tires are touching the vehicle it is a sign of vehicle maintenance needing to be repaired prior to replacing the tire.
Tires that should be marked for mending or removal include those that are flat (20% pressure below the recommended amount) or have a leak, especially if it can be heard or felt. Any tire containing exposed cords should be detached. Always remove a flat tire for servicing, do not put air in the tire and assume it will be safe. A tire with swells which prevented the gauge from touching the sidewall, or that is larger than 3/8-inch should also be taken off. Lesions larger than half an inch on a tire should also be marked for servicing. If the steering tires tread depth reaches less than 4/32- inches between the next groove it should then be removed. The same for other axles reaching less than 2/32 inches.
Keep up with vehicle and tire maintenance and use your Tire Inspection checklist before each trip for a smooth and reassuring ride.