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6 important ways to manage your commercial fleet’s tire stock

April 5, 2024

With 15.5 million vehicles sold in the United States in 2023, the health of the tire market is critical to the fleet transportation economy. The value of the replacement tire market alone was over $57 billion USD in 2023.

Tires are one of the largest expenses for fleets today, and the trend seems to be rising across the globe. According to Tire Business, increases in operational and supply chains, transportation, labor, and raw materials are all contributing to these market conditions.

The US relies heavily on tire imports from other countries to keep vehicles on the road. Renowned international tire manufacturers, including the industry-leading French company Michelin, the innovative Japanese corporation Bridgestone, as well as domestic giant Goodyear and global players like Continental from Germany and Yokohama from Japan, collectively drive innovation, enhance performance, and ensure safety standards within the tire industry.

Tire costs have risen by 30% or more over the past year. Everything from a global pandemic to inflation has led to these steadily rising prices, and with escalating tensions in the Middle East, the cost of crude oil – the key ingredient in tire production – has risen dramatically.

When you add in rising costs of ocean freight for Japanese, Chinese, and French imports, the problem is compounded. One thing is certain: The price of tires may not be decreasing any time soon. As a fleet owner or manager, what can you do to withstand the added expense of your fleet’s tires?

Take control of your fleet tire stock with these six important steps

Step 1: Invest in quality truck tires for your fleet now

Fleet managers understand that prices are going up before they are coming down. Investing in tires today will lessen the impact of rising tire prices over the coming year. Not only that, with tires in your inventory, you’ll be better able to prepare for emergencies.

As you build your tire inventory, keep in mind the value associated with each tire brand, including the built-in technology, the warranty, the extent of the product line, the availability, and the national dealer network.

Step 2: Coordinate fleet tire stock with your dealer

You cannot assume a dealer will have the tires your fleet needs. Coordinating with your tire dealer will help alleviate any potential supply chain challenges and more efficiently get you what you need. Let your dealer know that you need an inventory of certain tires, and they will likely find good alternatives if they cannot locate the exact tire you want.

In some cases, tires become nonexistent, and fleet managers have to change trucks to align with available inventory. This may seem extreme, but in today’s volatile tire environment, it is a reality. Look for dealers who will keep you well-supplied with many options.

Step 3: Join a National Account Program for deep discounts

Fleet management specialists like WEX offer substantial tire discounts on several quality brands and can even locate alternatives if the exact tire you’re looking for is not available. Discounts can range from $40 to $100 or more USD per tire, depending on the brand.* That adds up to huge savings annually for any size fleet.

WEX discounts are offered nationwide at dealerships in the network. By helping manage your inventory, WEX can help you procure the tires you need to keep your vehicles running. Partnering with a company like WEX can help you stay well-prepared even under the most challenging market conditions.

According to WEX tire specialist Shawn Galliett, special fleet pricing can significantly reduce your overall tire spend. For example, discounts can provide an average savings of $960 (or higher) USD per vehicle per year depending on the size of the fleet.* This is based on replacing 12 tires annually per truck.

Step 4: Keep up regular maintenance on your fleet of vehicles

Fleet owners and managers understand that regular maintenance on all vehicle equipment is a priority when you’re looking for fleet maintenance savings. 

Consider the benefits of implementing a tire maintenance schedule.

  • Extended tire life: Regular maintenance procedures such as tire rotations and alignments help distribute wear evenly across all tires, maximizing their lifespan and lowering the frequency of replacements.
  • Enhanced safety: Properly maintained tires ensure adequate traction and stability, reducing the risk of accidents caused by tire-related issues such as blowouts or tread separation.
  • Improved fuel efficiency: Well-maintained tires with adequate tread depth and inflation levels contribute to better fuel economy, saving on fleet fuel costs.

Establish a structured maintenance schedule that includes routine inspections and servicing intervals for all fleet vehicles. This schedule should include tasks such as:

  • Regular tire inspections
  • Tire pressure checks
  • Tire rotations
  • Wheel alignments

Step 5: Purchase tires for your fleet with integrated electronics

Most manufacturers today offer integrated electronics in the tire. Bridgestone, for example, partnered with Microsoft to develop the first real-time Tire Damage Monitoring System (TDMS), and Continental has a powerful Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) as well. These systems increase the life of tires and TDMS reduces accidents by alerting drivers about road hazards. Both systems monitor tire pressure.

Sensors embedded in the rubber can measure everything from tire pressure and tread depth to temperature changes in the tire and the road. Tire monitoring technology is developing steadily, promising to decrease wear and tear, and increase overall fuel efficiency.

Step 6: Real time data collection helps prevent unwanted work stoppages, or other costly errors

Collecting data in real time helps companies better track the overall day-to-day efficiency of their fleet. Nowadays, many fleets have access to technology that helps diagnose and forewarn about potential failures. Things like under- or over-inflated tires, low treads, and slow leaks can cause unnecessary wear and tear, significantly shortening tire lifespan.

A common mistake is mounting the wrong tire for the truck, causing poor performance and potential road accidents. These maintenance problems can cause unnecessary risk and downtime, costing your fleet business money. With the range of digital tools available today, your entire fleet can get the most out of your tire stock by regularly checking diagnostics on all of your vehicles.

With the ability to automatically capture your truck’s data, you have much more control over your fleet’s performance and savings. When your diagnostics pick up things like uneven or accelerated tire wear or tire failures, they can help pinpoint the root of the problem; which may be something mechanical such as suspension or alignment problems.

Diagnostics help you ensure tires are at optimal inflation levels, are rotated regularly, and are aligned. By collecting data over time, a tire maintenance program provides insights into why some truck tires have more or accelerated wear and tear over others.

The ability to examine overall fleet data over time will give you the tools to begin predicting maintenance issues before any maintenance is actually required, reducing your overall tire spend while anticipating future needs.

Remember the importance of fleet vehicle safety

While you’re saving on expenses and optimizing fleet operations, you’re also monitoring the safety of your fleet on an ongoing basis. An added benefit: The fewer accidents and delays on the road, the more you can maximize your profits and reinvest those profits back into your company.

The ability to properly manage the tire stock for your fleet of commercial trucks can save you thousands of dollars each year. The WEX EDGE savings network, for instance, offers exclusive discounts on tires and many of the other ancillary costs that keep your fleet business moving with ease – including fuel, hotels, and wireless services. When you’re managing a business and its budget, every dollar matters.

Learn more on how to better manage your over-the-road fleet:

To learn more about WEX, a dynamic and nimble global organization, with expertise in fuel management, please visit our About WEX page.

All fleet cards are not the same, and different types of fuel cards suit the needs of different kinds and sizes of businesses. View WEX’s fleet card comparison chart to see which fleet fuel card is right for you.

Apply for a fleet card today!

Tires Easy
Fleet Equipment Magazine
Tire Business

Editorial note: This article was originally published on February 22, 2023, and has been updated for this publication.

*Tire discounts will vary and are determined by individual tire sellers depending on various factors outside of your fleet management specialists’ control such as time of year, location, size of fleet, and type of tire purchased.

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