School Bus Fleet: Proper Tire Choice & Maintenance

school bus safety, school bus fleet

school bus fleet tiresAre the tires on your school bus fleet helping or harming your efforts to run a safe, cost-effective bus system? Despite seeming like a relatively minor choice, the kind of tires on your buses can have a lot of impact on both safety and performance. Likewise, proper care and maintenance of the tires can help keep safety standards high, while reducing long-term costs.

Here are a few tips we've picked up over the years.

Five Tips for Choosing and Maintaining Your School Bus Fleet Tires

1. In most cases, all-weather tires are best.

Very few school districts can afford to keep separate sets of winter and summer tires, so all-weather tires are usually the best call. The only exception would be if you live in an area which generally sees little variation between seasons, such as in the desert.

2. Geographically diverse districts may need multiple tire types.

Pick your tires based on where each individual bus will be traveling. A district that incorporates a lot of rural area, for example, may want to put special tires on the buses which will be spending most of their time on unpaved roads. Sometimes one size doesn't fit all.

3. Investigate the causes of 'curbing.'

Running into or over a curb - aka 'curbing' - does a lot of damage to tires, and can even cause a weak tire to pop. However, the causes of curbing can vary. Sometimes it's driver error, but other times a bus is being forced to make tight turns which are simply unsuitable for large vehicles.

If a particular bus is hitting the curb a lot, do a ride-along and try to discover why. Changing the bus's route to avoid narrow turns may pay off with lower maintenance costs.

4. Tire Retreading is safe and effective.

One of the most cost-effective ways of extending the life of your tires is through retreading. Retreading still has a bad reputation in some areas, but that is based on older versions of the technology. Modern tire retreading is so effective that some manufacturers will even offer like-new warranties on retreaded tires.

The lifespan of a tire can often be extended by 3x or more but at the fraction of the cost of new tires.

5. Keep detailed data on performance.

If you have GPS units or similar technology in your buses, they can provide a wealth of information on the bus's on-road performance. In turn, this can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of your tires, or potentially even warn of looming problems. Data often pays for itself!

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How does your district handle tires in your school bus fleet? Let's discuss it below!