If you’re not familiar with the term, I am not talking about the swamp dwelling carnivorous beast of a giant lizard you may be thinking of. The “gator” I’m talking about however, does have the ability to harm your equipment and others around just as badly as the previous specimen mentioned here. Thrown tire treads and other bits of blown tires that can be seen across our highways are the type of gator I am speaking of.
I tend to refer to this time of year as “gator season” due to the general change in everyone’s climate. As summer begins to kick into high gear, extremely hot temperatures become the norm throughout most of the United States. This is the time of year I notice more gators starting to show up on the highways as well. The reason behind this is simple one…Increased temperatures = more tire failures.
As your climate temperature increases, it is more and more important to maintain the proper tire inflation pressure, regardless of whether or not you are running virgin rubber or retreads. Not only does this aid in preventing sidewall flex, leading to increased tire temperature, but will save you fuel as well! As the heat and pressure increase in the tire, it will find the weakest point to escape, causing catastrophic tire failure. The warmer temperature of the air and heating of the pavement accelerates the heating of a tire with improper pressure. This can ultimately lead to a “ka-boom, thwap, thwap, thwap" scenario. Remember that on a hot summer day the pavement on a highway can easily reach 150o+ Fahrenheit.
It is also important to watch tires as they age, to assure that cracks do not form on the casing sidewalls, or where the tread meets the casing in retreads. I witnessed cracks such as these on one of my previous trucks shortly after purchasing it and replaced them with virgin rubber before “gator season” approached. Some other common causes of tire failure are overloading your tires and using the wrong kind of tire for your specific truck’s duty. Many of the tire pieces we see on the road are also a result of improper inflation and the bad habit that some drivers have of not doing a proper pre-trip inspection.
Regardless of the cause of the rubber lying on the road, a driver should safely avoid running over these pieces on the highway to avoid damage to his/her truck as well. A good piece of rubber under your truck can cause fuel tank damage, ripped air lines, broken fenders, ripped off mud flaps, and much more. Damage to your truck is not the only result of running over one of these pieces. I have seen many cases of pieces getting kicked up at another vehicle causing serious damage. I have even seen one get kicked up that was large enough to go through a passenger car’s windshield!
Be mindful that these “gators” are dormant in their natural state, but will take every opportunity to grab a hold of you when you pass by them. Keep a watchful eye for them and take proper preventative measures, as not to add to their “population size” on the highway through an unfortunate blowout of your own as well.