Wide-Base Tires

There is a higher adoption of tire pressure systems by fleets that use wide-base tires.

Wide-base tires intended for the over-the-road line-haul market will save significant amounts of fuel when compared to tires that are not designed for low rolling resistance. Wide-base tires generally display lower rolling resistance when compared to equivalent dual tires.

The benefits of wide-base tires compared to duals include up to a 1% reduction in overall vehicle weight, an equivalent upfront purchase price, and the potential for reduced maintenance.

The Confidence Rating indicates a high confidence in low rolling resistance (LRR) tires, in both dual and wide-base configurations.

Benefits

  • Lower rolling resistance leads to less fuel consumption.
  • There is a large range of rolling resistance in commercially available tires today, so the fuel efficiency will vary widely.
  • Because of improvements to LRR duals, the benefit of wide-base tires over duals is only 1% to 2%.
  • Savings can range from 627 to 1,284 lbs.
  • There is a negligible price differential between wide-base and dual tires when spec’d with new equipment.
  • No need to match tires as in a dual setup, and fewer tires to service reduces time to check pressure and tire condition.

Challenges

  • Anecdotal evidence that suggests some wide-base tires are less tolerant of certain maintenance shortcomings, such as bearing adjustment and inflation pressure.
  • Tire wear concerns can be more a matter of perception than reality.
  • Product availability was a concern in the early days of wide-base tires.
  • Non-users of wide-base tires still cite this as a concern; but more than 90% of tire dealers now stock at least the more popular models of wide-base tires.
  • Labor and service charges connected to a tire failure road call are roughly the same for wide-base or dual tires, so the increased cost of on-road breakdown is more connected to the increased likelihood of wheel damage.
  • If a wide-base tire is operated underinflated or flat, wheel damage may be more likely, as there is no companion tire to hold the wheel off the pavement.
  • In some regions wide-base tires are seen as a negative during trade-in.
  • Several truck dealerships that the study team spoke with indicated that they preferred trade-ins to have dual tires as they seemed to sell better.
  • Used truck dealers with both duals and wide-base tires find the duals are preferred and often replace wide-base singles with duals to make the trucks more marketable.
  • In the past, wide-base tires have been limited to one retread. However, improvements in casing and the retreading process are allowing additional retreads.
  • The brand of tire to seems to be a significant factor in the ability to retread it.
  • There are perceived concerns over traction and stability.

Video

Common Fleet Strategies

Fleets looking for the lowest rolling resistance tires or seeking benefits from reducing the weight of their vehicle find that wide-base tires can be suitable for their application. Fleets that have switched to wide-base tires usually do so in conjunction with a tire pressure monitoring or tire pressure inflation system to ensure the tires are properly inflated at all times.

Premature tire wear is often the symptom of some other problem on the vehicle whether the tires are standard size or wide base. Simply replacing a prematurely worn tire with a new tire without addressing the underlying problem will result in premature wear of the new tire as well.

In order not to lose the benefit of wide-base tires fleets should:

  • Conduct regular alignment checks
  • Ensure wheels are properly balanced
  • Ensure tires are mounted correctly
  • Keep tires properly inflated

Conclusions

  • Low rolling resistance tires, whether in a dual or a wide-base configuration, save significant fuel.
  • The purchase price of LRR tires may be higher than non-LRR tires, but these costs can be overcome through fuel savings when considering life cycle cost.
  • Adoption of LRR tires in the over-the-road trucking is high and will continue to increase
  • The perception of traction issues or driver acceptance problems is worse than the reality.
  • The MPG gap between the lowest LRR dual tires and the best wide-base tires continues to narrow.

Recommendations

  • Fleets should understand the total life cycle cost for tires in their specific operation, including the up-front purchase price, weight, wear, retreadability, etc.
  • Fleets should use the lowest rolling resistance tires for their specific needs from a trusted manufacturer. Tires on the SmartWay Verified List of Low Rolling Resistance New and Retread Tire Technologies meet only a specific rolling resistance threshold and can encompass a wide range of quality, fuel efficiency and service life.
  • Tire manufacturers should continue to develop even lower LRR tires while continuing to lessen the tradeoffs in traction and tread life.
  • Tire manufacturers should work to agree on a testing protocol, with the goal of making CRR data widely available to tire purchasers.
  • Tire manufacturers should publicly share the rolling resistance coefficient (along with wearability and wet traction) for all their tires once industry-wide collaboration and agreement on a standard testing protocol is achieved.
  • Tractor and trailer makers and their dealers, industry associations, EPA SmartWay, TMC, NACFE and others can better assist fleets in these decisions by making data more accessible to tire purchasers.
  • EPA SmartWay should develop tiers of rolling resistance tire categories to encourage early adopters to utilize the best tires for their needs.

Decision-Making Tools

NACFE developed several tools including a Confidence Matrix, decision guide and payback calculator to assist fleets in evaluating low rolling resistance tires. The Confidence Matrix shows how confident NACFE is in the adoption case for low rolling resistance duals. The Decision Guide summarizes the study findings to assist fleets in making decisions about low rolling resistance and wide-base tires. A Total Cost of Ownership tool calculates life-cycle costs of different tires fleets are considering.