As the leading training authority in the truck tire and wheel industry for the past 16 years, we are proud to say that TIA has made a positive impact on the safety and service procedures for technicians. From the equipment perspective alone, the increased usage of restraining devices (safety cages) and torque wrenches has undoubtedly prevented accidents in the shop and on the highway.
In fact, TIA adopted a new tagline, “Tire Safety Starts Here,” to reflect the association’s ongoing commitment to educating technicians.
No Watershed Moment
A few years ago, the introduction of wide base single tires as replacements for standard dual assemblies was not considered a watershed moment in the history of truck tires. There were only two manufacturers that embraced the technology at the time and only a fraction of the service outlets jumped on board right away and kept them in stock.
The benefits of wide base single tires were primarily focused on the weight savings, so a small number of fleets were targeted, most of them at the local level.
But then things changed. Once diesel hit $4 a gallon, fleets became obsessed with finding ways to improve fuel mileage. Since even the slightest improvement can translate into thousands, if not millions, of dollars in savings, companies that previously had no interest in wide base singles started to explore the possibility of replacing standard dual assemblies strictly for the fuel savings.
As a result, the popularity of these tires has grown to the point where there are multiple manufacturers and they are now readily available at tire dealers and truck stops from coast to coast.
From the service perspective, wide base single tires create a number of issues due to the size and weight of the assemblies.
The typical wide base single tire weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 lbs, while an aluminum wheel checks in around 60 lbs. Swap the aluminum wheel for a steel wheel and the total weight of the assembly jumps to over 300 lbs.
For the average technician used to handling standard dual assemblies that typically weigh less than 200 lbs, the extra 60 to 100 lbs per tire is going to take a toll on the body over time. As a result, companies are being forced to make some changes regarding the servicing of these tires.
A Tricky Process
For most people, the obvious solution is to just demount and mount wide base single tires while they are still installed on the axle. It solves the problem of lifting the extra weight, but also creates some issues when demounting the back bead because the technician is put in a somewhat awkward position with a standard tire iron.
It’s also important to note that the mounting process can be tricky, particularly when mounting the back bead with a tire iron, since hammers should never be used to strike the beads of a tire at any time.
Then there is the issue of seating the beads when the tire is in a vertical position. Concentric bead seating is just one of the factors that are extremely important if smooth and even tread wear is desired on wide base singles. When the assembly is not laying flat, the margin for error increases.
Challenges with Demounting and Mounting
For those companies that decide to remove the assembly from the vehicle prior to demounting and mounting, an entire new set of challenges is created.
The standard tire iron does an average job of acting as a wheel dolly on standard dual assemblies, but the size and weight of wide base singles reduces the effectiveness. Heavy duty wheel dollies are the best tools to ensure the assembly is removed and installed without risking injury to the technician or damage to the studs.
As far as demounting and mounting is concerned, specialty tools have been designed to handle the extra width so the tire can be demounted without lifting the assembly. But they don’t always work, and they require some patience and/or precision on the part of the technician so most shops just add some extra muscle and use standard tire irons.