Self-Sealing Tires Slash Costs for Hauler

By Tom Berg, Truck Editor | September 28, 2010
It's likely that Tracy Martin of Wingfoot Commercial Tire, Mobile, Ala., will find that air pressure in this Goodyear G287 DuraSeal tire will be normal, thanks to the tire's built-in sealing compound. Watching is Mike Esfeller, the truck's owner, who says the special tires have almost eliminated flats in his operations.

Is anything more frustrating and disruptive to hauling operations than a flat tire? Esfeller Construction Co. in Coden, Ala., was averaging 16 service calls a month from flats, which meant that about half of its 30 trucks were going lame.

"Our problem came when our drivers would run over debris at our work sites, lose air and get flat tires," says Mike Esfeller, the company's owner. "These sites are pretty rough on our tires — they're riddled with nails, screws and other pieces of sharp metal — and sometimes it's difficult for our drivers to notice that they have flat tires until they get back out on to the roadway."

At a cost of about $130 per call for tire service and repairs and an average loss of about $130 in payload revenue, flat tires were costing Esfeller about $4,000 per month. But those days, and losses, are almost gone, thanks to the self-sealing tires it has begun using.

Esfeller's tire dealer suggested using the Goodyear G287 MSA with DuraSeal Technology. Even after punctures, a Dura-Seal tire will continue rolling and so will the truck it's on. Each 11R24.5 DuraSeal tire costs about $100 more thana regular tire, but more than pays for itself, says TracyMartin, a sales representative at Wingfoot Commercial Tire in Mobile, Ala.

Esfeller tried some DuraSeals and liked the results. Since it began converting to them, the company's service calls have dropped to two a month, and those are from non-DuraSeal tires still on some trucks. Most of that $4,000 in former losses are now going to the bottom line.

Also, because the tires reliably retain air, their casings stay in good enough condition to be retreaded, which saves about $130 over the cost of buying a new tire. Before, Esfeller could retread only about half his casings. "I am sold on DuraSeal Technology because the sealant keeps the air in the tires and our drivers won't run on flat tires and burn up the casings," he says.

DuraSeals have a gel-like, solvent-free compound built into the inner liner of the tire. It won't seal sidewall punctures, but instantly and consistently seals tread-area punctures up to a ¼ inch in diameter. Some tires have each taken four and five punctures and kept rolling, Martin says.

Esfeller does site preparation, demolition, and road work for other contractors, and for municipalities and the state of Alabama. The company also runs several sand and gravel pits and does contract hauling. It operates in parts of Alabama and Florida and Mississippi's Gulf Coast. It began operation in 1979 as a sole proprietorship with three employees, and since has grown to 100 employees with 30 dump trucks and other equipment.