More Than A Thump

To insure proper tire inflation, drivers need to rely on more than just thumping, TRIB contest finds.

Despite truckers declaring that they would have no trouble with the Tire Retread Information Bureau's (TRIB) "Pump 'Em, Don’t Thump 'Em" Tire Contest, when it came time to demonstrate their skill, all contestants fell short.

Sponsored by the Meritor Tire Inflation System by PSI, the TRIB Pump 'Em, Don’t Thump 'Em Tire Contest was held at TRIB’s booth at the 2006 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.

For the contest, anyone with a valid commercial driver's license could test his ability to determine the inflation pressure of tires by just by giving the tire a good “thump.” Three truck tires on wheels provided by TRIB member Hankook Tire Co., each inflated to a certain pressure, were staged at the TRIB booth. Those coming within +/- 5 psi of the actual inflation pressure would receive one prize. A grand prize would be awarded to the contestant who guessed the inflation pressure to the exact psi. All gifts and prizes were courtesy of PSI.

“Not surprisingly, no one came within 5 psi of the air pressure in any of the tires,” reports Harvey Brodsky, managing director of TRIB. “As we demonstrated through our contest, inflation pressure cannot be accurately estimated by kicking or thumping the tire. Trying to determine if tires need air by thumping them is as effective as trying to determine if the vehicle’s engine needs oil by thumping on the hood."

More than 25 truckers participated in the TRIB Pump ‘Em, Don’t Thump ‘Em Tire Contest, with dozens more trying their luck after the contest officially closed. A number of truckers, failing to determine inflation pressure by thumping the tire, asserted they could, however, tell which of the three tires was the most inflated and which was the least. Out of the eight who attempted this, only one managed to guess correctly.

The importance of proper tire maintenance is critical to getting the best performance, fuel economy, life and safety out of a tire, while minimizing wear, maximizing retreadability and reducing unexpected downtime, Brodsky says.

“Air pressure is at the heart of proper tire maintenance,” he explains. “It is the air inside the tire that carries the weight of a vehicle, not the tire itself. The air supports the weight, absorbs shock and keeps the tire in its proper shape so it may perform as designed. The tire simply serves as the container for the air.”