What to Know when Buying Tires For My Truck

Selecting heavy-truck tires to fit your job requirements, service applications and tread needs can be tricky, but GCR is here to help you learn how to pick the best tires. Choosing the right tire for your purpose is essential in maximizing tire life and minimizing tire cost per mile. Our guide to buying new tires includes general guidelines on selecting the right tire tread types to fit your road needs.

How to Choose The Best Tires

Truck tire tread designs are created to address a variety of needs and applications. The tire tread design helps enable the tire to provide good service under a variety of conditions. It’s important to prioritize tire needs based on your requirements. Here is a list of common tire needs

  • Good Dirt and Mud Traction
  • Good Dry Traction
  • Good Snow Traction
  • Good Steering Response
  • Good Wet Traction
  • High Fuel Economy
  • Low Rolling Resistance
  • Long, High-speed Run Application
  • Long, Intermediate On-off Road Application
  • Short, Intermediate On-off Road Application
  • Long Tread Wear
  • Reduced Noise Generation
  • Resistance to Cutting/Chipping
  • Resistance to Irregular Wear
  • Resistance to Penetration
  • Resistance to Rib Tears and Curbing
  • Resistance to Stone Retention
  • Smartway Verification

You will most likely choose several combinations of tire needs for your particular usage. One consideration is prioritizing the needs from high to low. This will help you further narrow your tire selection. For example, if your fleet prioritizes maximizing fuel economy, a tire design with shallower tread depth and less aggressive tread design could help reduce traction and overall mileage.

What is Your Service Application?

Specific tread designs are crafted for certain service operations and feature special performance characteristics, like wet traction, steering response, and high fuel economy. Identifying your service application can help you pinpoint the best combination of requirements prior to choosing tires. Common service applications include:

Linehaul

Linehaul trucks normally make runs that exceed 500 miles and are used by truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers. These vehicles typically run between 80,000 and 200,000 miles a year and operate on highways.

Regional

Regional carriers operate within a limited multistate area and have runs of about 250 miles. They typically run between 30,000 and 80,000 miles a year.

Vocational

Vocational trucks in on-off road service run both on highways and in off-road environments. These applications operate in highly aggressive conditions at limited speeds and typically run between 10,000 and 70,000 miles a year.

Super Regional

Super Regional combines linehaul and regional operation in a hub-and-spoke operation, running typically about 100,000 or more miles a year. Average runs typically are between 250 and 500 miles.

Understanding Tire Positions

Additionally, it’s important to take into account the targeted wheel position of the tire — steer, drive, trailer and all-position — in relation to the service application need. Once you know your application you must understand the different characteristics that apply to each tire position. Use the following table to narrow down by tire position:

 Position  Linehaul Urban/P&D Vocational Regional/Super Regional
Steer
  • Tread wear in longhaul applications
  • High-speed capability
  • Good steering response 
  • Low noise generation
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Resistance to irregular wear
  • Tread wear in high frequency and severity and
    stop/start operations
  • Good steering
    response
  • Cutting and
    chipping resistance
  • Penetration resistance
  • May be speed restricted
  • Tread wear in longhaul applications
  • High-speed capability
  • Low noise generation
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Resistance to irregular wear
  • Resistant to curb damage
Drive
  • Tread wear in longhaul applications
  • High-speed capability
  • Good steering response. Low noise generation
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Resistance to irregular wear
  • Tread wear in high frequency
    and severity and stop/start operations
  • Tread wear in high torque applications
    (if designated)
  • Cutting and chipping
    resistance
  • Penetration resistance
  • Dirt and mud traction
  • May be speed restricted
  • Tread wear in longhaul applications
  • Tread wear in high torque applications (if designated)
  • High-speed capability
  • Low noise generation
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Resistance to irregular wear
Trailer
  • High-speed capability
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Resistance to irregular wear
  • Low rollling 
  • resistance
  • Resistance to curb damage
  • Cutting and chipping resistance
  • Penetration resistance
  • May be speed restricted
  • High-speed capability
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Resistance to irregular wear
All Position
  • Tread wear in longhaul applications
  • High-speed capability
  • Resistance to irregular wear
  • Tread wear in high frequency and 
  • severity and stop/start operations
  • Resistance to read scrubbing
  • Cutting and chipping resistance
  • Penetration resistance
  • May be speed restricted
  • Good traction and treadwear inon/off road applications
  • Good steering response
  • Tread wear in longhaul applications
  • Resistance to irregular wear
  • High-speed capability
  • Good steering response

Selecting The Best Tread Design

After you’ve determined your needs and service applications, it’s time to select the best tread design for your fleet. The two main designs are rib or closed designs and lug or traction designs.

Rib Designs

Rib designs have zigzag or straight grooves that run circumferentially around the tire, and they are usually used on steer and trailer positions. Zigzagged grooves offer biting edges for wet traction and are ideal for turning and maneuvering in pickup and delivery applications. Continuous straight grooves roll in a straight line with little resistance, making them ideal for high-mileage, high-speed and fuel-efficient needs as well as linehaul service applications.

Lug Designs

Lug designs have blocks and grooves cut across the tread to add traction and aggressiveness to the tire, making this design ideal for vocational service applications. Lug designs can be circumferential as well. Wide shoulder ribs — also known as closed shoulder patterns — are resistant to side forces. This allows for long tread life in linehaul operations. Open shoulder designs have more blocks on the edge and are ideal for operation in rain, mud or snow. Lug designs are primarily used on drive axles and are susceptible to irregular wear.
Additional design types to be aware of:

  • Unidirectional type is designed to rotate in only one direction.
  • Sipes type has design features molded or cut into the tread face or tread blocks.
  • Platforms or stone ejectors/rejectors types are designed to reduce stone retention in the tire.

5 Top Tips for Your Final Tire Selection

Tire needs, service applications and tread design choices can be confusing and overwhelming. You want to ensure your fleet of trucks is well-equipped to handle whatever operation you assign them to. We’ve put together the top five tips to keep in mind.

  1. Prioritize your operational needs by order of importance
  2. Compare your needs against your type of service application to further narrow your selections.
  3. Choose the appropriate tire tread design based on needs and service application.
  4. Approve your selection with dealer exports.
  5. Don't forget about retreads. Maximize tire performance reduce total costs by retreading with a Bandag retread. Learn more about it today!

 

And, as always, GCR Tires is here to assist you. You can search for products by application and type of fleet here or call your local branch to talk with one of our expert customer service team members.