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OTR/Ag/Specialty Tires

Selecting the Best Winter Grader Tire

Believe it or not, winter weather is not far off. Even though the temperature is warm where you are, snow is starting to be mentioned in many weather forecasts around the country.

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Believe it or not, winter weather is not far off. Even though the temperature is warm where you are, snow is starting to be mentioned in many weather forecasts around the country. Now is the time to start focusing on firming up the orders for both the government and private accounts that require grader tires to keep the roads and parking lots clean throughout the winter season.

Selecting the correct grader tire design and manufacturer is important to the customer, but even more important to the operator.

In the past, selection was easy as all agencies purchased the bias G2 Sure Grip design in a 13.00-24, 14.00-24 or 17.5-25. Graders today use from a 24” through a 29” tire, but for most government agencies and contractors, the common sizes range from 1400R24 to 23.5R25. The most popular size is still the 14.00-24 radial and bias tire.

Traction and ride are the two critical factors for a grader operator. They need a tire that provides excellent traction to plow through the deep snowdrifts in the winter, and muddy or hard packed conditions the remainder of the year. In addition, since many operators spend a lot of time in the grader, ride comfort is another critical factor when a tire is selected.

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The biggest complaint from many operators is that their grader lopes, or moves up and down while operating the machine at a certain speed. This can be caused by many different factors. If this occurs, be sure to contact the manufacturer of the tire and have them help to try and solve the issue.

With the graders being more productive, the bias tire is no longer the tire of choice for both the new and older graders. Many applications now require radials.

Graders are like any other piece of equipment – they have become much more productive due to the speed and horsepower. In addition to the main blade, many graders can be equipped with a “V” plow in the front, and a hydraulic wing plow that extends out from the main blade for snow removal. These attachments not only create extra weight on the tires, but also the horsepower and torque required to move the grader puts additional demand on the tire.

How many times have you talked to the government agency or customer about the importance of air pressure checks in their grader tires? Be sure to check and verify that there is a maintenance program in place to check the pressure at least weekly.

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What is the correct air pressure for the grader tire? This is a very difficult question, and one that takes time to address. Only when you know the weight of the grader with all attachments will you be able to determine the proper air pressure.

To help address the additional demand on the tires, many manufacturers are producing their 17.5R25-and-up graders tires as 2* rated just to handle the extra loads.

Remember that grader tires are rated for a max speed of 25 mph. If the grader exceeds the maximum allowable speed, then you must take that into consideration and adjust the pressure based on the maximum speed. Remember the greater the speed, the less the tire can carry. For example, at 30 mph the load capacity is reduced 8%. (See the chart on this page).

Like haulage and loader tires the same rule applies – for every 1% change in the load on the tire air pressure must be increased 2% to a maximum of 14% to the air pressure. But the pressure cannot exceed the manufacturers specifications noted in their engineering data book. To be on the safe side you should always contact the manufacturer sales representative or the tire engineer to ensure that the suggested air pressure is correct to properly carry the load safely.

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Another factor to note is that graders can be very sensitive machines. Therefore, the rear axles should have the same construction of tires on all wheel positions, either all radial or all bias tires. In addition, it is very important to stay within the grader’s manufacturer’s specification for maximum overall diameter difference allowed. Any deviation from this spec could cause damage to the grader’s drive system.

As stated above, since traction and ride are critical, the customer looks for the best tread design in both new and retread tires to maximize the performance of the grader. Talk with the customer to determine if they are satisfied with what tire is currently being used or if can you offer a better alternative.

There are many great choices when selecting an all-season or the conventional G2 grader radial tire.

Customers today in the snow regions tend to favor the all-season tread design due to the excellent traction and ride. There are many different all-season tire offerings and they are not the same. For example, the lugs will vary from wide to narrow, the tread radius from wide and flat or narrow and more rounded, etc. Even siping in the tread can make a major difference in traction for the rain, slush or snow. Another issue is whether the tire design holds stones. There is nothing worse than an operator complaining about a grader traveling from dirt to a hard surface and throwing a stone, which could cause some damage to the machine or, worse yet, cause damage to a vehicle following or passing the machine.

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All-season tires are becoming more popular in many other applications besides graders due to the flat, wide footprint. The tire has a very large net-to-gross contact area, which translates into greater traction, longer wear and a more stable ride for the operator. Since some manufacturers state their tire is a E2/G2/L2 rated tire, I have seen all-season tires placed on loaders that are loading trucks with finished material with great results.

As I have stated many times, be sure to determine all options available before recommending a tire to your customer.

Another major advantage of the all-season tire is that chains may no longer be needed. Many government agencies use chains for traction, but over the years they have found that some all-season grader tires offer much better traction, which has allowed them the opportunity to discontinue the use of chains. Not having to use chains saves them not only time but helps reduce costs.

If chains are required, you need to make sure that they fit the tire correctly and that the links do not wedge down between the lugs. In time, the links can work into the casing, possibly taking it out of service before the tire is worn out or the casing will not retread.

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Chains, when fitted properly, work well but they do require more maintenance. Be sure to work closely with the chain manufacturer. Provide the needed training for the customer on the proper maintenance practices to maximize the life of the chains.

Many salespeople see the government business as low maintenance. But they are no different than your construction, mining or quarry customers. The government agencies are looking for ways to reduce their tire costs as they work on tight annual budgets that are most likely being reduced each year.  So what can you do?

1. Start by asking questions about their current applications, operating environment and concerns.

2. Do a complete survey of the graders and drive some of the routes to better understand the surfaces the graders operate on.

3. Explain your findings and make your recommendation as to the correct tire and air pressure to maximize the performance of the tire.

4. Monitor the performance and provide the customer with tire records showing the details to include air pressure, wear rates and the cost per hour.

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Be proactive and take the extra steps to determine the best product fit for your customer. Set up regular inflation maintenance programs, offer training to the operators and share the performance data when collected. This will help to determine the best tire for their operation. Sell what fits the application – and not what has been done in the past – if there is a better offering. Since there are a lot of great offerings for a grader fitment, be sure to recommend the tire you feel will work the best and explain the features and benefits for the tire being recommended.

Last, be sure to ask for the order.  

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