Five Strategies to Survive Tire Shortage

Larry Stewart | September 28, 2010

Front Tire Load
Reassigning a wheel loader from working moist earth to wet gravel puts more load on its tires than switching to a 50-percent-larger bucket. Tires that were working at their rated capacity in the dirt will wear out quickly after switching to gravel.

There's probably never been a better time to focus on making tires last. Demand for large earthmover tires is outstripping supply and, in some parts of the country, contractors are paying a 60 percent premium for tires.

The unprecedented wave of demand for off-road tires results from a convergence of spikes in virtually all mineral and energy prices, coinciding with expanding work in developing markets such as China. The tire industry is expecting demand for off-road tires to exceed supply until 2007.

If you don't want to stand in line to pay big bucks for replacements, these five things will help extend the life of the tires you have.

  1. Pick the right tire (size, tread, radial or bias) for the job, and keep speeds and loads within the tire's rating.
  2. Inspect daily, checking inflation pressure when the tire is cold, and look for cuts and other damage. Adjust air pressure and fix injuries immediately.
  3. Train operators to reduce wheel spin and damage. Keep haul roads and loading floors clear of debris.
  4. Pull tires from service for retreading while sufficient tread remains.
  5. Maintain accurate records of tire data and investigate unusual wear patterns or premature failures.