Mitigate tire price increases

Feb. 21, 2017
According to the American Transportation Research Institute, tires cost fleets about 4.3 cents per mile in 2015, or 3% of their average marginal costs.

You knew it would happen at some point, you just weren’t sure when. Well it looks like the day of reckoning is nearly here. Tire manufacturers have announced price increases in some cases as high at 8%.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute’s An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking: 2016 Update, tires cost fleets about 4.3 cents per mile in 2015, or 3% of their average marginal costs. Tire prices tend to respond to changes in petroleum prices, but tire manufacturers are citing the expected increase in natural rubber prices as the reason for the upcoming price hike.

Regardless of why tire prices are going up, the fact is they are going up and will add to your cost of operation.

The good news is there are things you can do to help offset the cost increase. You can start by spec’ing low rolling resistance tires. Our Confidence Report on these tires shows that if tire rolling resistance accounts for about one-quarter to one-third of truck fuel consumption, a 5% improvement in rolling resistance would produce a 1.3% to 1.7% improvement in fuel economy.

Whether you decide low rolling resistance tires are right for you or not, keeping tires properly inflated is another great way to save fuel. Correct tire inflation reduces tire wear, increases fuel efficiency, and leads to fewer roadside breakdowns due to tire failures. Proper tire inflation is an ongoing problem for many fleets with studies showing that one out of five tractors is operating with one or more tires underinflated by at least 20 psi.

Our Confidence Report on Tire Pressure Systems explains both tire inflation monitoring systems and automatic tire inflation systems. It provides details on the importance of proper tire inflation and gives you information to help you select a system that is right for your operation.

If you decide not to invest in tire inflation systems, you should at least spend some time with your drivers and technicians reviewing the importance of tire inflation and retraining them on the proper way to check tire inflation pressure.

While you have little control over the price of new tires, you have a great deal of control over their contribution to your fuel efficiency. And it’s simply a matter of keeping them inflated properly.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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