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Understanding and Managing Commercial Tire Heat Build-Up

No matter where you live and what you drive, when temperatures start to rise, it is important to remember that heat can impact your tires. By managing these factors, you can improve safety, minimize downtime, prevent tire damage and extend the useful life of your tire casings.


What factors contribute to heat build-up?

  • High-speed driving – Internally a tire generates heat based on the speed of tire rotation. Going faster than a tire’s maximum speed rating builds heat and may lead to premature tire failure. While the idea of driving slower may not sound appealing, the time saved not having to deal with damaged tires or even an unexpected tire failure will far outweigh a little time lost at a lower speed.
  • Proper tire load – Tires have ratings for maximum load capability and speed. Understanding and abiding by the maximum load-carrying capacities for your tires will help you ensure your tires are not overloaded, which causes additional heat buildup in tires and may lead to premature tire failure.
  • Proper Tire Inflation – It is important to own and use a tire gauge to regularly check tire pressure. The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle is provided on your vehicle’s placard, commonly in the driver’s side door jam. While most people worry about overinflation, it is essential to know that underinflation can cause additional heat buildup which may lead to premature tire failure.
  • External Heat Sources – Elevated ambient temperatures, airflow-restricting aerodynamic features and vehicle emissions control equipment can cause excessive heat build-up in the fender well and can contribute to heat-related tire failure.

Changing trends impacting heat build-up in tires:

Factors contributing to tire heat are additive and the list of factors is expanding. Some of the trends and factors found in recent testing that have impacted Bridgestone and other commercial tires that you should consider are:

  • Aerodynamic Features Near the Wheel Well – Recent evolutions in vehicle aerodynamics to improve fuel economy, may lead to heat buildup in tires due to the lack of cooling pass by air flow. Anything that creates less airflow can increase the heat building in your tires.

  • Increased Speed Limits – When we know that speed affects the heat build-up in your tires, it is no surprise that as national speed limits rose from 55 to 70mph+, so did the potential for increased heat in your tires. Operating your tires beyond their maximum speed rating, which may be lower than the posted speed limits, causes excessive heat buildup in tires which may lead to premature tire failure.
  • Team Driving – While team driving has a positive impact on drivers and their ability to be safe, well-rested and transport more product in a shorter amount of time, there needs to be a consideration for the continuous use of the tires on their vehicles. In addition, it’s critical that if you are driving at high speeds, driving long distances, or driving in the heat of summer, you give your tires the chance to cool.

  • Emissions Control Equipment – Recent evolutions in engine and emission control equipment can elevate temperatures in and around the steer tire fender wells.

  • Increased Loads – There are times when state permits allow for increased load capacity above the federal regulations. Any time you carry a heavier load, you must be even more aware of tire pressure, speeds, and ambient heat temperatures. Overloading tires causes excessive heat buildup and can lead to premature tire failure.

What is the Risk of Overheating Tires?


Arguably the most important risk factor of overheating tires is the safety of both the driver and the people on the road. An unexpected tire failure can put all nearby drivers and passengers at risk for accidents. Understanding how tire overheating can occur can help save lives.

Tire Damage

Excessive heat has a high potential to damage the tire casing which would inhibit the casing from being retreaded.

Fleet Savings

Properly maintaining tires in the heat, or under any circumstances, can reduce tire-related downtime, increase fuel savings and drive greater efficiency. Any time you deal with tire-related downtime is a loss of time and loss of productivity.

How Can You Limit Excessive Heat Build Up?

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Bridgestone recommends the use of TPMS tools to increase awareness. The purpose of the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) in your vehicle is to warn you that one or more tires are significantly under-inflated, possibly creating unsafe driving conditions.

Bridgestone IntelliTire™

IntelliTire™ measures and monitors tire pressure automatically, simplifying fleet tire maintenance. It is an automated tire management platform built to reduce tire costs, increase labor productivity and keep fleets running safely. Proven to reduce tire-related downtime by up to 40%, the IntelliTire app makes tire maintenance simple for fleets by putting actionable insights and easy-to-use reports in their hands at all times. As a brand agnostic platform, IntelliTire will work for any tire – and any fleet.

Bridgestone recommends common maintenance practices to prevent excessive heat build-up in tires:

  • Do not exceed the tire’s maximum rated speed, which may be lower than posted speed limits.
  • Do not exceed the tire’s maximum load-carrying capacity.
  • Set and maintain proper cold inflation pressures as shown on the vehicle’s placard.
  • Use a tire pressure gauge to check tire inflation pressures at preventative maintenance intervals and during pre-trip vehicle inspections.
  • Inspect tires regularly for damage such as cuts, cracks, bulges, irregular wear, and penetrations.

Ultimately, understanding the factors that affect heat in tires is essential to maximize the tire performance of your truck or fleet operation. 

Once tires are damaged by heat, the impact is irreversible, and it accumulates over time so being mindful is a vital step in the process. It is critical to closely monitor and manage tire heat contributing factors that are within your control.

As a driver or fleet operator, it’s critically important to manage speed, load and inflation pressures.  These are three key driver-influenced factors that contribute to heat buildup in your tires.  By managing these factors, you can improve safety, minimize downtime and extend the useful life of your tire casing.

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