True cost of poor tyres maintenance for fleets

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By Denna Bowman

Neglecting tyres on company cars is inflating fleet operating costs, according to research by ARI Fleet UK.

Poor driver care and maintenance is responsible for the premature replacement of a quarter of tyres on vehicles managed by the leading fleet management company.

ARI replaced a total of 33,861 tyres on vehicles under its management on vehicles in the UK last year. Although more than 20,000 tyres (59.47%) were replaced as a result of ‘normal wear and tear’ and more than 5,200 (15.64%) were replaced due to unrepairable punctures and a total of 8,429 tyres (24.89%) were replaced due to ‘damage’.

Richard Minshull, Head of Operations for ARI Fleet UK, said: “Our figures show that for a variety of reasons that all impact on vehicle safety as well as fuel economy, thousands of tyres were replaced prematurely because they had not reached the end of their natural life.”

He added: “Tyre care is a vital part in prolonging tyre wear and getting maximum value from a set of tyres – and that is very much down to drivers.

“If uneven tyre wear is spotted early, then steps can be taken to ‘pull’ the tyre back into line. If drivers fail to undertake routine tyre checks and consequently, evidence of undue wear and tear is ignored, then the life of a tyre can be reduced by half or even two-thirds in some cases and that costs businesses money.

“Industry surveys keep telling us, as do our customers, that cost control is their number one priority. However, the biggest cost facing companies is drivers and too often managers and directors are failing to implement measures to manage them effectively. This then translates into driver abuse of vehicles of which tyres is one of the most obvious examples.”

In replacing tyres, ARI also detected that some tyres were changed due to more than one defect. That included some tyres having tread depths below the legal minimum and suffering from tracking damage and being illegal and suffering from under or over inflation.

By running tyres at just 80% of the recommended pressure, motorists can expect tyre life to be reduced to around 75%. If the pressure falls to 60%, motorists can expect to achieve just 35% of the potential mileage from a tyre.

Illegal tyres also boost fuel consumption. Driving on tyres which are just 10psi under the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure can increase fuel consumption by 2.5%. By keeping tyres at their correct pressures, motorists can travel further on each tank of fuel, reduce their CO2 emissions and stay safer.

“Making sure that tyres are correctly inflated costs nothing yet can save fleets significant sums of money,” said Mr Minshull.

He added: “Aside from breaking the law regarding vehicle roadworthiness, negligence about tyre faults increases the risk of companies coming into contact with criminal and civil prosecutions as a consequence of drivers being involved in road crashes.

“The regular checking of tyre tread and pressure and overall condition should be a key feature of all corporate risk management policies and procedures. The failure of drivers to check tyres, at least monthly and ideally every time they fill up with fuel, could have disastrous consequences.”

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