Steer tire is the most critical tires among all tires in a semi truck. It’s located in the front axle, and it handles the overall ride.
It constantly works against 8, 16, 20, or more tires that may go in other directions. They are required to be stiff and rigid, so the truck is maintained in a straight path.
Typically, when a tire loses air, gets punctured, or flat, a tire needs to be patched. But can you do this with a steer tire? Read on to know more.
Here’s a short answer to Whether You Can Patch a Steer Tire on a Semi Truck:
According to federal regulations, a semi truck’s steer tire can be patched. Repair methods also include recap and plugging of tires. As long as the ruptured area is located on the crown area and the patches don’t overlap with one another, it’s perfectly fine to patch a steer tire.
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What does it Mean Patch a Tire on a Semi Truck?
To patch a tire is to repair round holes in the tire. It involves applying a patch and a sealant to the affected area, such as a leak or puncture.
A patch is a go-to remedy when the tire hole is only a half or 3/4 inch in diameter.
Patching a tire may require a rubber with adhesive placed in the back and attached to the inside of a damaged tire.
It works better than a plug but is more challenging to do alone, so a professional mechanic is advised.
Can you Patch a Steer Tire on a Semi Truck?
No law makes patched steer tires illegal. As we know, when the law doesn’t provide, it is deemed legal.
While the federal law provides that a steer tire with “boot, blowout patch, or other ply repairs” cannot pass inspection, the provision is interpreted as section repair.
A section repair is needed when the damage on the tire is so severe. It involves the face, shoulder, and sidewall reinforcement.
So when a steer tire gets punctured or when you run over a nail, you can patch the tire as it’s not prohibited by law.
Can you Plug a Steer Tire on a Semi Truck?
You can plug a steer tire on a semi truck as there’s no existing law barring it.
However, this route should only be done when there’s no other choice, like you’re in the middle of the road and have no spare tire.
Steer tire plugs are not replacements for a proper punctured tire. This option can be the quick remedy for a damaged tire, but it can fail and may cause severe damage to the tire over time.
Can you put a Recap Tires on Semi Truck Steer Axle?
Recap tires are a common practice in the fleet industry. It is usually known as a retread tire.
In this method, the tire undergoes a remanufacturing procedure where the worn tread on a tire is replaced with new ones to prolong the tire’s life.
Retread or recap can be done in steer tires in a semi truck. However, this practice is banned on commercial buses by the FMCSA.
Many truck operators recap their steer tire once and the drive tires at least twice before moving the tires to the trailer position.
If you decide to recap your tires, make sure to work with professional retreaders. They inspect the damage thoroughly, and it will give you peace of mind knowing that the tire is professionally fixed.
Can a Patch be Put on any Type of Steer Tire?
Steer tires can endure several patches. Steer tires are designed to be durable and tough, so you can patch any type of steer tires of a semi truck.
However, patches and any type of repairs are only limited to the thread area. It’s also not recommended to patch a 1-inch hole in the tire.
Can a Patch be put Anywhere on the Steer Tire?
You can’t just patch anywhere in the steer tire. Patch on the steer tire should be done in the crown area or center thread.
In the crown area, there’s no limit to the number of holes to be patched. But if punctures are located in the sidewall or shoulder of the tires, there’s no way you can repair it by patching the tire.
How to Patch a Steer Tire on a Semi Truck?
Again, patching a steer tire involves fixing a puncture or flat tire.
You can do the process yourself if the damage is not severe; otherwise, you may need professional help from a mechanic.
Here are the simple steps to properly patch the steer tire;
Step 1. Find the damage
The first step to patching a tire is to find the rupture. If the hole is so tiny, you can soak the tire in a tank filled with water so you will see the escaping water.
Other use soapy water as bubbles quickly come out from the tire.
Step 2. Prepare the tire with a buffing tool or scraper
The ruptured area is prepared through the buffing tool and scraper. In this procedure, you need a cleaning solution to help the tire bond and make it suitable for the repair patch.
Step 3. Apply a vulcanizing cement
To ensure that no water will enter inside the tire, apply a vulcanizing cement on the buffed area. Wait until the adhesive is safe to touch.
Step 4. Put the patch inside and pull it to the hole
Remove the plastic side of the hole first and make sure that the sticky side will go inside the tire. When the patch is already inside the tire, you must push it outside through the hole.
You will need a pair of pliers to push the pointy side of the patch outside so the sticky side is pulled to the hole tightly.
Step 5. Apply a sealant
Apply a sealant all over the patch and other tire parts that may be prone to air bubbles. The sealant will ensure that there will be no leaks.
Step 6. Cut the pointy side or stem of the patch
When the sealant is dry, you can now cut the pointy part of the patch with a cutter or scissors. After doing so, you can put the tire back on the rim.
A proper patched tire will serve you longer. However, take note that the rupture must be located in the crown area of the tire.
If it’s on the shoulder, adjacent area, or sidewall, the damage cannot be fixed by patching the tire.
How long can you Drive with a Patch on the Semi Steer Tire?
A patched tire can last for a long time than a plugged steer tire. On average, you can drive a properly patched tire for another seven years.
In most cases, it can even outlive the life of the semi truck’s original tire. However, experts recommend changing tires every after six years in the life of a truck.
Moreover, its life can be extended more if the truck is not driven in extreme conditions and a professional mechanic does the patch.
Although the life of patched steer tires can be extended for a while, it is not advisable to patch it over and over again. If you do so, it will cause blowouts, or the truck’s speed will be affected.
How fast can you Drive with a Patch on the Semi Steer Tire?
If you have only patched the steer tire once, you can still drive the same speed as the original tire on a smooth road. While you can still move at the same speed off-road, you have to be a bit cautious.
In addition, if the steer tire patch is appropriately done, you will feel as if no repairs have been done.
To be sure, you can safely drive 90 miles per hour with a steer tire. If you want to go faster than that, it’s best and safe to get a new steer tire.
Can you Swap Steer Tires with Drive Axle Tires?
All tires are built with steer tires in mind. The steer tire casing is mostly similar to drive and trailer tires. They only vary in the compounding and thread designs.
So, in general, you can swap a steer tire with drive axle tires so long as the material and the sizes are matched.
In fact, all tires can be positioned in various positions to extend their lives. For instance, new tires are placed in front or steer axle, and older tires are set in the trailer.
However, the swapping should only be your last resort. Nothing beats a steer tire or drive tires positioned in their recommended positions.
After all, steer tires are built to perform at their best. They are responsible for handling the vehicle, and they ensure that it maintains the straight direction while other tires tend to move otherwise.
The drive axle is responsible for the traction to ensure that the vehicle will keep moving.
Since steer and drive axles have different jobs, they may be made with various designs. In some instances, a steer tire features a ribbed design, while drive tires have a lug-type thread design.
If this is the case, you can still swap the tires, but it may not be a good idea to do so. If the original steer tire is a rib-design, it is best to replace it with a rib-design tire.
What are the DOT Steer Tire Regulations?
The DOT laws limit the unsold tire for only six years. No tires older than six years shall be sold on installed in a semi truck.
Further, the federal government imposed a minimum thread depth of 4/32 inches for steer tires. A manufacturer will be issued a citation if he sells a tire with lesser thread depth than recommended.
This is to ensure that the steer tire is tough and will not wear quickly.
The only law that regulates steer tire repairs is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMSCR). When it comes to patching a steer tire, no law prohibits doing so.
Nothing in the law that says patching a tire is illegal. Even the number of holes or punctures that need repairs are not mentioned.
Therefore, you can fix a tire for an unlimited time so long as the repairs don’t overlap and the damage is on the center tire.
The law was written more than 60 years ago, and it’s a bit vague. But according to experts, what is prohibited is using a steer tire that has undergone section repairs.
Keep in mind that what the law excludes is legal. So if the recap or plug tires is also a question in mind, take note that it’s also legal because no law is barring the same.