No matter how solid your forklift tyres are, nothing lasts forever. Particularly if your tyres aren't maintained properly. But since so many people - and this goes for both amateurs and professionals - don't know the simple tricks to get the best out of their forklift tyres, the tyres often don't get to live to their full life expectancy.
Forklifts are built for endurance, and require tyres that are just as capable of handling rough terrain and harsh industry applications. At Axis, we know from experience that forklifts function their best – and that business downtime is at a minimum – when forklift tyres have been a) correctly chosen for the forklift, and b) properly maintained.
For now, we will be focusing on point B.
How Often Do Forklift Tyres Require Maintenance?
There are different levels of maintenance for forklift tyres that should be conducted with different levels of frequency. A lot of these maintenance tips have mainly to do with correct usage on a day-to-day basis. This includes:
- Ensuring air pressure in your forklift tyre is at the correct level
- Avoidance of ‘bleeding’ as a means to lower air pressure
- Making sure valves on a forklift’s tyres are covered to prevent dirt on the interior
- Good driving (for instance, avoid stopping and starting your forklift frequently)
Once a day, a professional maintenance check should be organised to ensure your forklift tyres have the appropriate level of air pressure. A tyre’s shape plays a huge role in the performance of the tyre, as well as ensuring it lives to its full life expectancy. Arguably, this is the single most important aspect of tyre maintenance for forklifts. Air pressure influences:
- Tread life
- Road hazard resistance
- Braking efficiency
- Cornering control
- Side cut & heat resistance
What are the Benefits of Regular Tyre Maintenance?
The benefits of forklift tyre maintenance are almost infinite, impacting both a business and its workers. If your forklift tyres are left to wear too far, significant safety and performance issues are almost inevitable. By looking after your forklift tyres and scheduling regular maintenance, you will be able to:
- Increase worker safety
- Reduce driver fatigue
- Increase forklift fuel efficiency
- Improve forklift stability & performance
- Significantly improve the maximum tyre life
- Avoid more serious & costly damage to the machine, such as cracked rims
- Reduce long-term maintenance costs
- Avoid business downtime
So really, a better question than ‘What are the benefits of regular tyre maintenance?’ might be: ‘How isn’t it beneficial?’
How Do I Know When My Forklift Tyres Need Replacement?
Industry professionals want to achieve the longest possible lifespan from their forklift tyres, and obviously don’t want to replace them before they’ve had their full run. As the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
It is, however, important to be able to identify when a forklift tyre has reached the end of its life, to avoid all of the risks identified above. As well as safety and operational risks, it is also a lot easier and cheaper to replace tyres when they begin showing signs of wear than waiting until worn tyres cause damage to the forklift itself.
At Axis, we supply a huge range of forklift tyres, and each tends to have unique ways of showing signs of wear. However, these are generally easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. A good tip is to keep tyres clean, as it is easier to detect defects and signs of wear if there is not backed up dirt.
General signs that your forklift tyres need replacing are:
- Objects penetrating the tyre surface
- Radial stress cracks
- Shoulder cuts & tread cuts
- Tread & sidewall bulges
- Chunks of rubber falling off the tyre
- Flat spots & balding
Simple wear is another good sign that your forklift tyre is almost ready to be replaced, but the amount of simple wear a tyre can endure depends on the type of forklift tyre you are using. For example, cushion tyres can have 50% wear lines, whereas for pneumatic tyres, the 2-inch rule is usually a good benchmark.
If ever you are unsure, it is always best to consult a professional.
If you don’t afford your forklift tyres proper and regular maintenance, you put both your workers and your fleet at risk of significant safety and operational hazards. Industry professionals and business owners should always remember that it is easier and cheaper to perform ongoing maintenance checks and to replace forklift tyres when they begin showing the signs listed above.
When it comes time to replace and fit tyres, this should only be done by qualified tyre fitters. If not, your forklift could be at risk of damage.
Axis Tyres offers free fleet inspections for all customers, as well as comprehensive forklift tyre maintenance and replacement services. So really, there’s no excuse not to perform regular checks.