About 1 out of 5 tractors/trucks is operating with one or more tire underinflated by at least 20 psi.  

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Executive Summary

Proper tire inflation pressure is critical to the proper operation of a commercial vehicle. Correct tire inflation reduces tire wear, increases fuel efficiency, and leads to fewer roadside breakdowns due to tire failures. However, only 46% of all inspected tractor tires are within ±5 psi of the desired target pressure. A tire pressure monitoring system can help with diagnosing this problem sooner for quicker correction.

Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) track the pressure levels of tires using various sensor locations and indication methods. Tire pressure monitoring systems are designed to let drivers know the inflation condition of each tractor tire. They provide direct measurement of tire pressure and compare the measured pressure to a pre-set target pressure to let drivers know when tires are underinflated.

Adoption rate of these systems on tractor is still relatively small.

Introduction to Tire Pressure Systems
Common Fleet Strategies

The value of appropriate tire pressure is significant, especially given high fuel prices. Fleets are realizing that having their drivers manually check tire pressure may not be the best option for ensuring appropriate tire pressure. 

  • For-hire carriers are more likely to be early adopters of tire pressure monitoring systems.
  • There is a high adoption rate of tire pressure systems among fleets that use wide-base tires on their tractors.
  • Private fleets want systems that improve engagement of drivers in fixing tire pressure problems and therefore prefer tire pressure monitoring systems to automatic tire inflation systems.
  • Fleets that want tire pressure details for different tire positions are choosing TPMS.
  • Fleets indicated they would like the option of having automatic tire inflation systems for tractors.

 

What Others Are Saying
Decision-Making Tools

A technology selection chart was developed that identified the major characteristics of the various tire pressure monitoring systems. The tool condenses an immense amount of information into a single matrix that can assist in the selection of the correct technology for the fleet.

The payback calculator allows fleets to input data and estimate the payback of various technologies based on their benefits. It calculates the benefits based on savings from reduced roadside breakdowns, extended tire wear, and improved fuel economy.

 

Manufacturers

Truck manufacturers indicate that fleets are doing a better job of maintaining proper tire inflation on tractors than on trailers without the use of tire pressure systems. One tire pressure monitoring system is production-available at three truck manufacturers, but there has been limited adoption. Other manufacturers’ products are available for installation at upfitters or dealerships prior to delivery. Truck manufacturers believe that system payback is not attractive enough to encourage adoption. Truck builders indicated they would be willing to engineer various TPMS into their tractors if there was a reasonable order volume. Some truck manufacturers are studying whether it makes sense to offer these systems as part of their regular truck production. 

Conclusions

The ability to know the actual tire pressure by wheel position and to capitalize on the data transmission capability of electronic sensors and on-board systems are key advantages of TPMS over ATIS. Private fleets are more likely to choose TPMS and actively engage their drivers in proper tire maintenance procedures.