Class 8 truck tires for a Peterbilt 387: Baby needs a new pair of shoes
by Richard Henley
At the end of March 2010, the odometer on my Peterbilt 387 showed 108,000 miles, and I had to replace the steer tires. I was near the company’s Pittston, PA terminal, so I stopped in there to have the steer tires replaced.
108K is a little sooner than I normally have to replace steer tires, but the truck came with Bridgestone R287 tires on the steer axle and they did the exact same thing as every other set of Bridgestone steer tires I’ve ever had.
I don’t know what the problem is, but they seem to develop uneven wear on the outer edge between 90,000 and 110,000 miles, and its really upsetting because half the tread will still be left on the rest of the tire when they need to be replaced. I did a poor boy’s alignment check (level surface, framing square and tape measure for toe in) and it checked out okay, so once again I have to assume it’s a tire problem and not a truck problem.
By comparison, I get between 185,000 and 220,000 on a set of Goodyear or Michelin steer tires, so the extra few bucks spent for better tires is really worth it in the long run. (For the power tires, I get around 400,000 to 500,000 miles.)
My preferred steer tire is the Michelin XZA3, as it seems to give a bit better ride and wet weather traction than any other I’ve tried.
Another reason I like Michelin tires is they seem to be better balanced than other brands. One of the new tires didn’t require any weights when run on the spin balancer, the other took ½ ounce. Not bad for a tire and wheel assembly that weighs four times what the average car tire does.
This isn’t the first truck I’ve had that started with Bridgestone steers and went to Michelin, and on all the others the ride difference was really noticeable. A testament to Peterbilt’s suspension design is that this one doesn’t seem to show as large a difference between the two brands of tires as some of the other trucks did, it rode pretty well before and just a bit better now.
The tire tech was really nice and let me inspect the front suspension while the truck was off the ground, and all the components are still nice and tight, and the factory black paint is still on the outside of the brake drums. Regular maintenance and proper driving sure go a long way toward making a truck last. I did notice that one of the front shocks was just starting to leak, so while I was there I went to the parts room and got new shocks for all three axles.
I got Monroe Gas Magnums for the front axle, but they didn’t have them in stock for the rear axles, so I had to settle for Gabriel OEM style shocks on the drive axles. I’ll check them out in 50,000 miles and let you know how they hold up.
I must say that this truck was easier to change the shocks on than any other I’ve had. The shock mounts are designed such that it’s virtually impossible for moisture to get in and freeze the bolts on the mounts, a real improvement over some designs.