Buyer beware

Recently we've seen a trend toward putting a variety of materials inside truck tire casings in an effort to improve performance. As with most technical components, a little knowledge can be dangerous. So it's crucial to find out exactly what a new product can do for you. Not doing so could keep you from getting the best performance out of your tires or even worse, lead to an expensive mistake. There

Recently we've seen a trend toward putting a variety of materials inside truck tire casings in an effort to improve performance. As with most technical components, a little knowledge can be dangerous. So it's crucial to find out exactly what a new product can do for you. Not doing so could keep you from getting the best performance out of your tires — or even worse, lead to an expensive mistake.

There are three types of tire additives: sealants, coolants and ride enhancers. Sealants are designed to minimize air loss from punctures to the inner liners of tubeless tires. They're especially appropriate for mixed-service or off-road applications where tires are subjected to penetrations, cuts, or other hazards that can cause inflation loss, especially in conditions that make immediate repair difficult.

The theory behind tire coolants is that lower running temperatures will increase durability and treadwear, and allow tires to age more gracefully. Engineers question these claims, however. Modern radial highway tires run at temperatures considerably lower than earlier versions, and further reductions are likely to be of little value. Exceptions include extreme overload conditions and excessive brake heat generation, such as in off-road earthmoving hauls.

Materials that are said to improve vehicle ride are often recommended in place of more traditional lead weight balance correction. There are several factors in OTR operations that favor this tire-additive category. To begin with, most axle end components — tires, wheels, hubs, and drums — have improved in uniformity, making them less prone to vibration from out-of-balance or high runout conditions. In addition, suspensions have become more compliant and thus more responsive to damping as a method of controlling ride disturbances caused by road irregularities

Another factor is an emphasis on increasing truck cab comfort to attract and retain drivers, as well as reduce fatigue. Finally, there are regulatory moves afoot to ban the use of lead (including wheel weights) in new vehicles.

While we can't assess the validity of performance claims for specific products here, we can address some things you should take into consideration before using any new product in a tubeless radial tire.

  • Is the material chemically compatible with the tire, wheel, paint, and coating surfaces it will contact in normal use?

  • Is the material non-abrasive to the interior surfaces/finishes of the air chamber?

  • Will the material inhibit casing inspection procedures prior to repairing or retreading?

  • How long has the product been used in the industry?

  • Will the product have any effect on warranty consideration for the tire or wheel?

  • Will the material cause any loss in inflation retention integrity, and are any related inflation/valve system components required or provided?

  • What are the recommended product removal procedures when the tire is dismounted?

  • Are there any disposal or toxic material issues?

  • What are the specific performance claims? It's unlikely that any one product will be effective as a sealant, coolant and ride improvement device.



There are many people who believe that some of the products discussed here have bright futures in OTR truck applications. But remember, most of the world's magic is restricted to the entertainment industry — not the transportation business.

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