Preventing Irregular Wear on Wide-Base Tires

Proper care of your wide-base single tires can improve their life and ROI.  Do wide-base single tires wear differently than standard tires in dual assemblies? There’s a perception among some users and prospective users of wide base tires that they will experience different rates of wear than standard tires. Many also believe that wide base tires are more susceptible to some forms of irregular wear. 

The tire makers tell us that some forms of irregular wear were indeed more prevalent in earlier generations of the tires, but that’s supposedly not as much of an issue as it once was.

“Wide base tires may have shown a tendency to develop irregular wear over time, but that was more of a problem with early generations of the tire,” says Matt Loos, director of truck and bus marketing at Bridgestone. “It’s not really the case any longer. The technology and the construction is to the point today where they can be expected to wear at similar rates. That certainly was an issue originally.”  Likewise, Paul Crehan, Michelin’s director of product marketing, says recent offerings address the wear problem.

“This has been a problem for a number of years, but we have spent the last four years trying to figure out a solution,” he says. “Last year we introduced two new wide base tires, one optimized for the highway, the other for regional. Both of these two tire families were designed to fight irregular wear in the shoulder area. By designing the tread pattern and the casing to better manage the load stresses on the tire, we have significantly reduced irregular wear on trailer tires.”

Wide base tires are, by design, subject to different wear conditions than duals, Crehan says, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they will wear in different — but predictable — ways.

“With wide base, you have one tire with very big shoulders,” he says. “With duals, the four shoulders can spread the stress out between them.”

Most fleets will experience more irregular wear on trailer tires than drives because of their free-rolling nature.

“It’s an order of magnitude less of a problem because of the torque,” Crehan says, “but wear patterns tend to be seen more frequently on blockier tread patterns.”

The challenge with defining a solution to irregular wear is that you must first identify the factors responsible for the wear. They range from poor maintenance, over- or under-inflation, heavy or light loads and even the type of pavement upon which the tires operate. 

The battle against irregular wear, and thus unsatisfactory performance, with wide base tires, like dual tires, has to start with a proper maintenance program. The four same issues arise with wide base tires as well as duals: spec’ing, inflation pressure/tire loading, alignment and mechanical condition.

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