When it comes to semi-trailers, a tire is never just a tire.

Tires are typically the biggest equipment cost for semi-trucks in general, and trailer tires in particular play a big role in getting the best performance out of your rig.

Keep reading for five key factors to help you get the best value when purchasing tires for your semi-trailer.

#1: Fuel Efficiency and Trailer Tires

Trailer tires play a bigger role in fuel efficiency than those in other axle positions.

  • Trailer tires account for 40%-50% of tires’ overall impact on fuel efficiency
  • Drive tires contribute 30%-40%
  • Steer tires contribute 15%-20%

The relationship between tires and fuel efficiency also depends on other factors.

  • The weight of the loads you’re carrying.
  • The rolling resistance rating of the tire. The lower the resistance, the better miles per gallon (MPG) you get.
  • Whether you choose wide-base tires, which can offer a number of advantages over traditional dual tires, including lower weight and greater efficiency.

#2: Tread Depth for Semi-Trailer Tires

Well-maintained deep rubber tires can give you plenty of profitable service life by protecting against the risk of puncture.

The Department of Transportation requires a minimum tread depth of 2/32” for trailer tires, but industry experts strongly advise going above these bare minimums to get the best value. A depth of at least 6/32” to 7/32” is ideal.

Be aware that greater puncture resistance often comes with a loss of rolling resistance, which may raise your fuel costs. So it’s important to shop carefully to make sure you’re striking the right balance between these two priorities.

#3: Driving Application for Semi Tires

Do you primarily use your truck for hauling goods across the country, or making shorter deliveries within a single region or metro area?

Your driving application helps determine the design features that are most important for your trailer’s tires, such as tread, sidewall and rubber compounding.

  • For long haul tires, top priorities include low rolling resistance and extended wear.
  • Tires for regional or urban jobs may call for special sidewall design to resist hazards like curbing, scrubbing, or scuffing. A thicker tread, from 19/32” to 23/32”, is often required.

Matching your trailer tires to the type of driving you do most often prolongs the life of each tire and gives you a lower cost of ownership. It also helps you determine the most appropriate balance between fuel efficiency and durability.

#4: Repositioning Other Semi Truck Tires

Many fleets try to save money by recycling drive and steer casings onto the trailer.

Depending on design and condition, some drive tires have the flexibility to give you extended life as trailer tires, but you must pay close attention to tread depth before making the switch. Anything below 11/32” means you have one year or less of puncture resistance.

In addition, this strategy may not be the right fit for all fleets, so speak with a trusted tire expert for guidance.

#5: Retread Tires

Retreading offers a cost-efficient way to achieve optimal tire performance when included in a comprehensive tire program. It can help you maintain a stock of road-ready tires that may perform as well or better than brand new tires, and at a fraction of the cost. Pay close attention to the quality of the casing. A casing in good condition can give you up to 7 years of quality performance.

Looking to buy a quality used semi-trailer? Our inventory includes a variety of different types of trailers including reefers, flatbeds, and tankers.

Contact Pedigree Truck and Trailer Sales to speak with our experts about making the best choice to keep you rolling.


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