Money Matters: Tire Costs
Feb 1, 13 | by: admin
Choosing the right tires for your pickups—and when to make seasonal changes – improves both the corporate bottom line and employee safety
By Robin Walton
Growing up in a small town, I often saw the logo of a large lumber company that incorporated the words “safety first.”
I keep that slogan in mind when making decisions to improve the bottom line of our company — right down to developing a strategy for what types of tires we use on our pickups.
Tire selection might not seem like an important item to most business owners. But tires play a crucial role in more than employee safety; they also affect the company’s financials through fuel economy and vehicle maintenance/repairs.
The problem with choosing the best tires to run on your pickup fleet is it almost always involves compromise.
For instance, the stock street tires that come on most work pickups grip really well on dry pavement and deliver good fuel economy but don’t work so well in winter conditions or around jobsites where mud and loose gravel are prevalent.
Conversely, the over-size mud tires on my brother-in-law’s pickup perform great in off-pavement job conditions. However, they are expensive to purchase and to operate because of the added weight and rolling resistance, which means a drop in fuel economy.
Fuel economy is one of the big considerations for developing our company’s tire tactics, which is why Low Rolling Resistance (LRR) tires are now on the budgetary radar screen.
LRR tires have been available since the early nineties and have experienced resurgence as the original equipment on a variety of green vehicles including electric and hybrid offerings.
With a push from the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandate, vehicle manufacturers have been asking tire manufacturers for LRR tires to fit a wider variety of vehicles. That has led tire makers to develop new technologies and techniques to gain an edge in the race for better fuel economy.
Some of the gains in LRR tires are found in weight savings; the tires are designed with lighter materials, resulting in less rotational mass and an improvement in fuel economy. Tread life also improves, helping reach ROI long before the tires are due for replacement.
As an added bonus, less weight means less wear on pickup components such as brakes, shocks and steering parts.
The price of these eco-friendly tires should continue to fall as the technology evolves and demand rises.
Keep in mind that if the current tires on your pickups still have a lot of tread life in them, don’t jump to LRRs because there isn’t enough of a margin to justify a premature swap.
That is, of course, unless you are swapping the winter mud/snow treads for tires that do well in drier conditions. Then the switch to LRRs might be a good move.