Light Duty: Time For Tire Pressure Maintenance Systems

Since they come standard with all light-duty vehicles anyway, your fleet might as well start reaping the benefits.


In the tire pressure system business for the past 16 years, business has definitely picked up in the past few for Advantage Pressure Pro, says director of marketing Vanessa Zaroor, because many fleet officials are tired of rising costs and their technicians’ overlooking proper tire maintenance.

“Now instead of us banging on their doors, saying, ‘Here’s what we can do for you,’ people are starting to come to us,” she says. “When we start talking they realize we can integrate with other products—if they are running a fleet maintenance system for their trucks or vans, we can tie into a lot of other things and piggy-back those readings via satellite or cell services back to their home base. A (smaller) fleet can call a mobile van and say, ‘You’ve got this tire low, you need to start doing something about that.’”

The rising costs of fuel, replacement parts and accidents have seemingly forced the hand of some shop managers who may have been putting off the costs of a big conversion—costs that now are looking a lot more affordable.
“People are finally starting to grasp it, that’s what caused the difference,” Zaroor says, ticking off a laundry list of cost-savings: “Safety, and now gas—for every five pounds of pressure you’re low; you lose 3 percent fuel efficiency. If your tires are properly maintained, you can basically save up to 5 percent on your fuel efficiency. You’re going to have better handling and braking, better stability and performance, and you save fuel by not having the added resistance from a tire being low on pressure.”

Maintenance-wise, Zaroor says a good tire pressure system can make a shop work much more efficiently. While checking tires can be an overwhelming task for heavy-duty fleets, smaller light-duty vehicles need no less attention to detail. Tire pressure monitoring systems can also get the information straight to the managers, saving the technicians’ time for other duties unless a problem is detected.

Of course, practical safety issues of preventing tire wear, blowouts and potentially costly accidents are the main reason TPMS are gaining popularity for light-duty vehicles, where losing one of four tires could cause a dangerous loss of control.

“You hear about (blowouts) more from the (heavy-duty) trucks, because people have a negative view of them, unfortunately, but about 80 percent of all blowouts on the road aren’t due to a sudden impact; they are due to low tire pressure that builds up over time,” Zaroor says. “On light vehicle, safety is going to be a bigger reason than on (larger vehicles) because they want the fuel savings and better performance.”

TIRE SENTRY

A division of Fleet Specialties, Co., the Westlake Village, CA-based business has been selling TPMS for nearly a decade, offering products both through OEMs and the aftermarket. Bill Shore, project manager for Tire Sentry’s new TMS series, says tire under-inflation is one of the costliest problems a fleet faces, but is one that can be mitigated with a TPMS.

“Not only does it cause excessive heat buildup in the tire, creating dangerous driving conditions, but it will also shorten tire life by rapidly increasing tread wear,” Shore says. “Our system is designed for the detection and prevention of under-inflation, so it can help reduce the occurrences of accelerated tread wear, which is just one of the results. Zipper ruptures is another; over-heating and vulcanization is another, and any of those can cause a disastrous situation or just ruin the tire.”

In the end, it comes down to maintenance, and how much time and effort technicians are willing to put towards the tire. Shore says from talking with fleets, it can be a real problem.

“Regularly checking tire pressures, as they tell us, is one of the most important maintenance procedures that they have learned, yet it’s one of the most difficult to enforce,” he says. “Even the best preventative maintenance programs will find that maintenance personnel all too often overlook checking the tires—even the best preventative maintenance programs can’t prevent tire damage resulting from the loss of tire pressure while on the road.”

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