Time to Retire Your “Thump” Gauge

Time to Retire Your “Thump” Gauge

As we pointed out in last month’s Benefits of Proper Spec’ing article, maintaining proper tire pressure is essential to maximizing fuel economy and minimizing premature tire wear. Truckers routinely inspect a number of vital settings on their vehicles before long hauls – none more important than tire pressure.

According to William Estupinan – Vice President of Technical Service for Giti Tire USA, “Having a well-synchronized air pressure maintenance program between your drivers and your shop is the single most important maintenance procedure for your tires and is really the easiest to administer. It has the biggest impact on your fleet costs associated with tires, including: fuel consumption, wear life, irregular wear, etc.”

Despite the obvious benefits of using a proper gauge to measure tire pressure, many operators still rely on a much cruder methodology – the thump test. It is not uncommon to witness truckers tapping on their tires with a sturdy stick, listening for audible clues of variations in pressure between tires. Although it may take less than 5 minutes to complete, there is little benefit to administering a thump test on your radials; truck tires are not like pumpkins.

Estupinan also added that, “If you think you have a ‘well calibrated ear’, thumping the tires could possibly give you an idea of the difference in pressure between one tire and the other, but will never tell you the actual air pressure. Besides, the typical sound of a tire at a particular pressure will be different if the tire is hotter.”

To put things in perspective, tapping on truck tires to gauge air pressure is just about as reliable as tapping on the gas tank to measure fuel levels. Experts recommend the “straight foot, duel head” truck tire pressure gauge for measuring inflation levels; the tool is widely available at any truck stop – usually for under $20 – and it takes less than 30 minutes to complete a proper inspection.

If you consider the high cost of frequently replacing prematurely damaged tires and factor in the loss in productivity as a result of downtime, a decent air pressure gauge is a worthy investment.

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