Your business may not have a huge array of vehicles to manage, but even a one-vehicle business needs a tire plan. If you depend on your car or truck to make sales calls, do field-service work, or deliver products, your business rides on your tires.
Large businesses, including construction firms and trucking companies, use vast fleets of vehicles that require specialty tires and routine maintenance to stay at the top of the heap. Take some tips from the pros and manage your small-business fleet wisely. You’ll save money on tires and save yourself aggravation out on the road.
Remember Basic Storage Rules
In some cases, you’ll need to store tires or vehicles that aren’t in use. Seasonal tires and specialty vehicle tires will last longer if you give them a proper place to take a break. Store tires indoors or cover them with tarps if the tires must be stored outdoors.
Store tires out of the way of foot traffic in a vertical or horizontal position. Don’t lean the tires in any way. Be careful not to puncture, scrape, or bend tires, and don’t let them bang into each other.
Tires that are mounted on vehicles but not moved for awhile will become misshapen. If you have trucks, vans, or other vehicles that you rarely use, start the vehicles up once a week or so and take them for a spin. Otherwise, store unused vehicles on blocks to protect tires from damage.
Tread Carefully Out in the Field
There are a lot of items and materials that puncture or destroy tires. If your small fleet sometimes goes on site to construction zones, factories, or other industrial locations, your tires may be exposed to hazards that aren’t found in normal parking lots. It may be worth it to park your vehicle close to the nearest road and walk to a raw job site if you don’t need access to heavy tools.
Materials like gasoline, lubricants, and ozone begin to degrade tires on contact. Paint, cement sludge, and solvent pools can also permanently damage tires. Since tires are made of petroleum-based material, they break down easily when they’re exposed to petroleum-based liquids.
Roofing nails are notorious tire-killers, but any construction site will have the inevitable fasteners scattered around. Park as far away from a newly built structure as you can to avoid running your tires over nails and screws. On unimproved and heavy construction sites, be on the lookout for sharp debris and other hazards as you navigate to your work area or meeting spot.
Train for 100% Smooth Operation
Whether you’re the only approved driver or your business employs a dozen approved drivers, each one is considered an operator of your fleet. Each one should be trained in proper vehicle operation so that you conserve tires on all vehicles. Each operator should know what to do if a tire goes flat and how to change a tire in the field.
Operators should avoid jackrabbit starts and jerky braking habits. Tires are placed under additional stress when you accelerate quickly and stop rapidly. Likewise, when you go around sharp turns or curves, you should slowdown to avoid adding additional pressure to tires. Smooth driving is the key to conserving tires.
Each vehicle’s glove compartment should contain a safety checklist that is consulted and marked weekly and before each extended road trip. Tires should be inspected for cracks, tears, punctures, or embedded items. Wheels and rims should be checked for excess debris. The tire pressure and depth of tread should also be noted.
Get Your Maintenance Program in Gear
You may believe that your small business can’t afford a tire-maintenance program, but you can’t afford not to have one. When your vehicles are running properly and tires are installed correctly, you save money on fuel and replace tires less frequently.
A good working relationship with a tire shop that offers full-service maintenance also pays off, since the experts alert you to problems before they become nightmares. The shop should keep records of your tire purchases to help you monitor the brands and styles of tires that work best for your needs.
Tire maintenance is as simple as setting up a schedule for routine alignments and tire rotation. Tire maintenance is also happening when you keep brakes and steering systems in good working order. Invest in regularly scheduled tire inspection and service to keep your small business rolling along.
Get your small staff motivated and excited about tire maintenance by having a “tire change” class. Employees should be able to demonstrate how to locate the jack and spare; use the jack; remove and replace the tire; and loosen and tighten the lug nuts.
The champion tire-changer can receive a trophy or ribbon. You can also host an incentive program by offering a handsome bonus to the employee who keeps his or her vehicle tires fresh for the longest period.
Evans Tire & Service Centers are happy to start you on the path to responsible small-business fleet maintenance. We offer tires, tire service, and a full array of vehicle repair and maintenance solutions, including service on brakes, suspension, shocks, and wheel alignment.