The quality and condition of your forklift tires could have a huge impact on your business and bottom-line. This is a by-product of the fact that the rated capacity and other physical characteristics of a tire only apply to a brand new tire. Tire wear, damage and generalized aging can and will result in a decrease in performance and safety. As such, keeping your tires in good condition will increase you forklift’s overall efficiency, improve productivity and even reduce operator fatigue. The question becomes: what should you do to maintain your forklift tires? Let’s take a look:
If you're looking for information on the different types of forklift tires, visit our forklift tire guide.
Inadequate operate training and poor driving habits are among the largest causes of premature tire wear. By instituting these basic guidelines, you can not only increase the lifespan of your forklift tires but also improve the safety of your operators and facility.
To begin, here’s a list of behaviours and bad habits that your operators should avoid at all costs:
At the same time, we also recommend that your operators try to avoid these harmful behaviours:
For assistance with your operator training needs, ask Lucas about our on-site operator training classes for corporate groups or our monthly course for individual trainees at our central location in Thorold South.
It’s essential that you regularly check the air pressure on your pneumatic air tires. But why? Well, anything significantly outside of the ideal air pressure poses potential issues. An under-inflated tire, for example, will suffer from reduced traction, making it difficult to maneuver the forklift in a safe and effective manner. Over-inflated tires, on the other hand, increase the amount of wear on the center of the tire, weakening that area relative to the rest of the tire while posing a risk of a blowout. To determine the ideal air pressure for your tires, check the sidewall of the tire for the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure.
Ideally, air pressure should be checked by your operators as part of their pre-operation inspection at the beginning of each shift. However, if this isn’t possible or practical, you should make an attempt to at least check your tire pressure on a daily basis. Pressure checks should be a daily requirement because the interior pressure of the tire fluctuates based on the exterior temperature. Specifically, higher outside temperatures increase tire pressure while lower temperatures cause a reduction in air pressure. What’s more, no tire has an absolute seal, which means that air pressure is always escaping from the tire. Furthermore, daily checks allow you to catch a puncture or significant leak before it becomes a bigger issue.
A work around for this tire pressure issue is to use solid pneumatic tires or utilize a process known as foam filling. Where solid pneumatic tires aren’t available or are impractical, foam filling is a great way to prevent flats from puncture holes and eliminates the need to constantly check your tire pressure. Foam filling usually takes 2 to 3 days to fill and cure. Foam-fill and solid tires can usually be used with your existing wheels. Always follow manufactures specs and the professional recommendation from your local dealer.
Despite your best efforts to maintain your forklift tires, all tires eventually need to be replaced and it’s important to do so at the appropriate time. By refusing to replace your worn out tires can lead to a number of performance and safety issues. Since worn out tires provide less traction, your forklift’s engine needs to work harder to perform daily operations, effectively reducing fuel efficiency and increasing the amount of wear and tear on your forklift’s engine and transmission. What’s more, worn out tires pose a greater safety risk as they are more likely to experience a blowout or failure and cause an accident. It’s also important to note that forklift tires are the only source of shock absorption on a forklift since the counterweight eliminates the possibility of shocks or springs. And, once a tire is 40% worn or more, the forklift and its operator absorb over 84% of the shock generated by travelling over a rough or uneven surface. But how can you determine that your forklift needs a new set of tires? What follows is a list of warning signs to look for by tire type:
Overall tire wear is one of the best ways to check if your cushion tires need to be replaced. With press-on tires, replacements should be considered as soon as the outside diameter of the tire has worn 1 ½” or when more than 30-40% of the rubber is removed from the tire’s surface. Other indications of tire wear or damage to pay close attention to include:
If your cushion tires need to be immediately replaced, Lucas offers on-site tire service that’ll reduce your downtime and simplify the replacement process by doing the work with our mobile service vans without taking your forklift off-site.
Similar to cushion tires, overall tire wear can be used to determine when or if a pneumatic tire needs to be replaced. Once again, wear is measured with relation to the original diameter of the tire, with replacement occurring once a pneumatic tire has worn between 2” and 3”. However, variations between manufacturers mean that this level of wear is more of a basic guideline than a rule of thumb. Instead, pay attention to the amount of tread left in the tire (replacing it before it wears out) and other signs of wear such as:
Replacing your forklift tires is a significant, yet necessary, investment. To help lessen the blow to your bottom-line, here are a few ways you can reduce your costs:
As you can see, there’s a lot of factors that go into maximizing your tire investments. From operator training and best practices, regular inspections, proper maintenance and making smart choices when it comes to replace your tires, there’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration. If you’re currently in the market for a new set of forklift tires or think your forklift tires are starting to wear, contact Lucas Liftruck Services today!