As autumn rains and high-altitude snows make driving conditions rough for truck owners throughout the Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell area, local diesel engine repair shops recommend that drivers take a closer look at their tires.
As autumn rains and high-altitude snows make driving conditions rough for truck owners throughout the Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell area, local diesel engine repair shops recommend that drivers take a closer look at their tires. Like hard-working footwear on a hiker, a truck's tires must be rugged enough to withstand rough terrain yet provide enough traction to give firm footing in mud, snow or loose gravel.
Whether your truck is powered by Dodge-Cummins, has a Ford-Powerstroke engine under the hood or is a part of the GMC/Chevy Duramax family, you have a wide and sometimes bewildering array of tires from which to choose. As Gage Burlingame of Gem State Diesel notes, "Entire stores are devoted to tires, but many buyers don't know where to start sorting through that huge inventory." Fuel economy, traction, load-bearing capacity, purpose and even style enter into drivers' buying decisions when choosing tires, and having advice from shops that specialize in commercial diesel trucks can help demystify the process.
"Every commercial diesel truck tire has a code, and once you know how to read its most important elements, you're on your way to picking the right tires for your truck," Burlingame says. Tires stamped with an "LT" are designed for light trucks; other designations include P for passenger vehicles and ST for special trailers and some agricultural diesel equipment. If you plan on driving through slick or slippery conditions, Burlingame says, look for tires labeled with an M+S or M+T rating. "Tires meant for mud, snow and rough terrain are ideal for dirt and gravel roads, off-road uses and all-weather driving. If you count on your truck to get you to remote work sites or move equipment in any weather, these are the tires you need."
Load capacity is a vital factor for hard-working truck tires too. "Standard truck tires with an E rating can withstand 3,000 pounds of weight per tire, but you have to factor in the weight of the truck as well as its contents," Burlingame says. "If you're carrying a ton and a half of construction materials and towing a trailer full of equipment, it's easy to meet those upper limits." When in doubt, he suggests, look for higher letter ratings. "Greater load-bearing capacity lets you handle big jobs later even if your current driving is mostly in the city."
When it comes to tire maintenance, a specialized diesel engine repair and maintenance center may be a better choice than a general tire shop. "The same team that maintains your truck's common rail injectors and changes its oil can also check and rotate your tires," says Burlingame. "The people who work with trucks every day know them best, and that includes their wheels."