As school bus drivers shuttle students to and from school, their buses encounter potential hazards, including uneven roads, sharp turns and curbs. In addition, frequent stops and starts can take a toll on the bus.
But what part of the bus endures the brunt of this daily abuse? The answer: tires.
SBF spoke with representatives from four tire companies about what makes a tire right for a school bus. Most important, they say, are the physical properties of the compounds that protect the tire from damage, as well as the durability of the casing construction so that retreading is an option.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. offers two tires for the school bus market: the G661 HSA and the G182 RSD. The G661 HSA is an all-position tire with a long original tread life, and the G182 RSD drive tire is optimal where enhanced traction is necessary for snowy climates.
The G661 HSA "works particularly well on the steer axle," according to Bruce Woodruff, director, business solutions marketing, commercial tire systems, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. "[It] features ... enhanced toughness to protect against sidewall abrasions."
Goodyear's G661 HSA all-position tire has a long original tread life and works particularly well on the steer axle, according to the company.
Also, the G661 is equipped with Goodyear's TredLock Technology — interlocking microgrooves that enhance the tire's traction and lifespan.
Both tires are equipped with sidewall protector ribs and scrub-resistant compounds to protect against damage from everyday wear and tear, Woodruff explains.
Woodruff also points out that "retreading is a great way to reduce the cost of a tire program ... a retread costs about one-third the price of a new tire."
Goodyear has 125 authorized retreaders in its network, and its retreaded tires are available through hundreds of commercial tire dealers across North
America, according to Woodruff.
"Goodyear offers a G182 retread that matches the tread design and performance of the new tire," he says. "For bus operators who prefer to run all new tires on their buses, the casings from worn tires can be sold to retreaders, who will retread these casings for other uses."
Maintenance is also an important issue when it comes to tires. Goodyear's fleetHQ network offers school bus fleets a breakdown service, standard pricing wherever fleets operate and consolidated billing through the fleet's local dealer.
Hankook's AH24 tire has tread compounds that are formulated for optimal performance in high scrub applications.
Hankook Tire America Corp.
Hankook Tire America Corp.'s "AH24, AH12 and AH11 tires are the most appropriate designs for use on school buses, and work well in all tire positions," says Brian Sheehey, director, commercial tires for Hankook Tire America Corp. "For school buses operated in areas where optimal traction is desired, the Z35A and DH06 tires make good choices for the drive tire positions, while using one of the other three designs on the steer position."
The AH24, AH12, and AH11 tires have tread compounds that are formulated for optimal performance in highscrub applications.
Hankook's tires are built to prevent uneven wear, chips, cuts and tearing. Sheehey explains: "Stone ejectors are located in the groove bottoms to protect the tires from stone drilling. Also, the compounds used in our tires are resistant to ozone cracking and weathering."
When selecting tires for a school bus, Sheehey says safety is key.
"Hankook tires have high standards for endurance and undergo both lab and field testing to validate the expected performance and meet government safety requirements," he explains.
Michelin Americas Truck Tires
Michelin Americas Truck Tires offers several tires that can address the unique challenges of transporting children safely to and from school, according to Doug Jones, customer engineering support manager for the company.