It’s hard to imagine many jobs as unpleasant as dealing with scrap tires. Most fleets store, pile or throw scrap tires somewhere behind the maintenance shop.

Rather than looking at the pile of tires as a nuisance to be discarded, consider that scrap tires can be a good source of fleet operation information.

With the information gathered from scrap analysis over time, you can start to see trends that can guide you in making choices about driver training or fleet maintenance procedures.

Those are lessons I learned from Tim Miller, commercial truck tire marketing communication manager with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Miller advises that going through a pile of scrap tires should not be a one-person job. It’s easier to have at least one person to help move tires around and another to write and input tire data.

Sales representatives from your local tire dealer might agree to help you with this task, he says. For very large fleets, local representatives from their primary tire manufacturer can help as well.

But before diving into the pile of tires, he says to create a blank spreadsheet with the following headings: “New Tire Brand and Type,” “Tire Date Code,” “Number of Retreads,” “32nds (tread depth),” “Last Retread Department of Transportation (DOT)/Date” and “Reason.” Start at the last column on the right of your spreadsheet and work left:

• Reason: Under this heading, briefly describe why the tire is sitting in the scrap pile. Because making such determinations can be a challenge for even the most seasoned tire professionals, Miller says the “Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide,” available from the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC), might be able to help.

• Last Retread DOT/Date: If retreading is part of your tire program — and it should be Miller stresses — you will see several retread and date codes branded onto the sidewall of your tires. Each time a retreader puts a new tread on a tire, a U.S. Department of Transportation assigned two-letter ID code and the week and year of the retreading is branded on the tire. So, if you find an issue with a repair or retread materials or workmanship, you can trace the problem back to the source.

• 32nds: Ideally, tires in a scrap pile should be worn down to the tread depth that has been designated as the “pull” depths for steer, drive and trailer tires, he says, and the depth should be fairly consistent across and around the tire. Often, when some sort of irregular wear pattern has happened, tread depth measurements can be vastly different depending on where you measure.

Miller says to first note this irregular wear, then measure the shallowest point in a “major tread groove” and record this as the tire’s tread depth. Recording the tread depth allows you to see trends among prematurely wearing tires.

• Number of Retreads: For each tire you inspect, the number of retread codes tells you how many times the tire has been retreaded. Over the long term, Miller says you might find that some brands of tires or tire models within a particular brand lend themselves well to the retreading process because you get more retreads for each casing.

• Tire Date Code: The last four digits of the new tire DOT code indicate the year and the week of that year that the tire was made. Warranty typically extends coverage against defects for a certain number of years from the date of purchase or the date of manufacture. Because proof of purchase date can be difficult for a fleet to prove, typically the date of manufacture is used.

• New Tire Brand and Type: A scrap tire analysis should tell you what is working for you and what is not, he says. Over time, your tire analysis spreadsheet data might begin to show some definite trends.

“The tires in your fleet are valuable assets to your operation,” Miller notes. “Wrestling them around in a scrap pile is hard work but the information they can reveal may save you a lot of money in the long run. The stories told by the tires in the scrap pile will give you subject matter for future meetings with your shop technicians and drivers." BI