Why tyres still need care and attention when vehicles are parked for extended periods

Tyre maintenance can often be overlooked particularly when vehicles are not in use, and a major global company has identified a potential issue that could arise during the COVID-19 pandemic.Michelin is issuing special tyre maintenance guidance for haulage companies and truck operators that may have vehicles parked up for long periods as the lockdown enters its second month in the UK.

The advice from the tyre company follows a survey by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) which revealed 46 per cent of the UK’s trucks – around 240,000 vehicles – are now parked up with no work.

Rob Blurton, Michelin’s most senior technical field engineer in the UK and Ireland, has detailed steps to follow before laying up vehicles, along with advice on periodic inspections and preparing vehicles to re-enter service.

He advises: “No tyre is designed to carry the weight of a parked truck or trailer indefinitely, so it’s essential operators follow guidance to ensure vehicles can be quickly returned to service when freight volumes return to normal, and without the need to replace tyres unnecessarily.”

Michelin’s guidance comprises a three-point outline:

Preparing vehicles: To prepare a vehicle for extended parking, Blurton advises all tyres should be inspected for visible damage (such as cuts or bulges) and abnormal wear, and cold tyre inflation pressures checked for all tyre positions.

If the pressure checks reveal tyres under-inflated by up to 14psi, check for any visible cause and if nothing is found, the tyre should be inflated to the recommended level following the standard methods of safe working.

If under-inflated by more than 14psi, arrange for the tyre to be demounted and inspect the interior for signs of internal damage, such as mottling and creasing. If mounted in a twinned configuration, the twinned assembly should also be demounted and inspected. Operators should also ensure each valve is fitted with an appropriate valve cap.

During extended parking: Every four months a vehicle should be driven around the yard where possible – or if space is at a premium and assets cannot be moved, the tyres should be rotated a quarter turn. However, before any truck or trailer is moved, check visually for signs of under-inflation and if a tyre is deemed to require attention, follow the same guidance as previously stated.

Re-entry into service: Before commissioning any vehicle back into operation, check the cold tyre inflation pressure of all tyres and adjust in line with the tyre manufacturer’s guidance.

Commenting on the advice, Blurton says: “The very notion of parking assets for extended periods is unfamiliar for most operators, with the exception perhaps of heritage vehicles and those used seasonally, such as gritters and snow ploughs. However, these are important steps and will help to protect the condition of the tyres and ensure they remain ready to get back to work.”