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What's The Secret To Trailer Tyre Selection?

Which trailer tyre is best?

You might try asking your scrap pile. Seriously, every scrap tyre has a story to tell, if you know how to read it. And those stories can help you select trailer tyres for longest life and lowest cost per kilometre.

Do trailer tyres wear more slowly than tyres on other positions?

Some do. Some don’t. In many cases, trailer tyres do have a slower rate of wear than other tyres. There are several reasons for that:

  • No steering. Unlike steer tyres, which generally wear fastest, trailer tyres don’t steer the vehicle (except when alignment is way off – which we’ll discuss later). So, they’re not subjected to the huge forces needed to change the course of a 35 ton truck.
  • No drive torque. Unlike drive tyres, trailer tyres aren’t being driven by the engine. So slip and engine torque aren’t boosting their wear rates.

But doesn’t slow wear increase chances for irregular wear?

Often it does. And that’s one of the reasons why many trailer tyres are produced with a shallower tread. Because wear is slow, a shallow tread still provides long tyre life, and tends to produce even wear.

Why is that?

With a shallow rib design, there’s less rubber to squirm around, especially during turns. The tread tends to stay put and wear evenly, because it doesn’t flex as much.

Our trailer tyres exhibit fast wear. What can we do?

It may be they’re encountering a lot of stopping, starting and manoeuvring scrub. This may also result from using spread axles. If wear is fast, but even, a deeper tread may help.

Spread axle trailers tend to put larger scrub forces on tyres during turns, leading to faster wear.

Can we also protect against sidewall damage?

Several trailer-specific radials are available in versions with a sturdy sidewall protector rib. While sidewall protector ribs won’t eliminate damage, they can help protect against some of the cuts, scuffs and abrasions that result from curbing and manoeuvring on city streets, at docks, in rail yards, etc.

And, because there’s a protector rib on both sidewalls, if one rib becomes worn, you can reverse the tyre on the wheel to expose the other rib for continued protection.

Sidewall protector ribs on some Bridgestone radials help reduce damage from kerbing, cuts and abrasions.

Could we use steer-type tyres on our trailers?

Certainly. But you’ll need to do a cost per kilometre analysis to determine the benefits of switching to a deeper tread steer-type tyre. Deeper treads may also produce other problems:

With severe turning side forces, a deep tread can act as a lever, increasing internal stresses – especially on belts – and may result in increased numbers of belt separations.

At the same time, if turning side forces are high, steer radials that incorporate de-coupling rib structures may suffer damage

Severe turning side forces can be transmitted into to these de-coupling grooves, belt packages by deeper treads, possibly resulting in mechanical tears, and may also cause damage to decoupling rib structures at shoulder edges.

How does trailer radial selection affect retreadability?

All Bridgestone and Firestone casings – including Bridgestone trailer radials – are designed for retreading. So you can choose the tyre that works best for you, then retread it for drive or trailer positions.

Of course, some fleets run nothing but retreads on their trailers, and enjoy great success with them.

What should we use off the road?

If you work off-road – even if only occasionally – consider tyres designed for on/off-highway service, especially if you’ve experienced tread “chipping” or “chunking” with on-highway type tyres.

Bridgestone SA offers several on/off-highway radials suitable for trailers, including the M857and M840wide base radials. All incorporate special tread compounds and casing construction for off-road use.

Bridgestone M840and M857, as well as the Firestone UT3000radials, are designed for all wheel positions, but will provide a good long tread life and retreadability when used on trailers in an on/off application.

The Bridgestone R168 and Firestone HP 3000are but two of a number of highway pattern tyres suitable for trailer fitment.

There are lots of options in trailer tyres. Your experience and a good look at your scrap can help you decide which is best for you.

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tyres in south africa
tyres in south africa