Under Pressure?

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A trucker in a September 2, 2017 Reddit feed asks [edited]:

I saw our mechanic using a cage to add air to tires. I looked more into it and what do you know, an exploding big rig tire in your face removes your face, among other things.

Is it reasonably safe to do this myself, without a cage? It’s low pressure (bought one of those lines that goes onto the red trailer glad hand).

Following are a few of the [edited] responses:

  •  Yes it is fine, if the tire is anywhere near operating psi than odds are it will have blown up already had there been a problem with it.
  •  I saw a video of a kid who had a tire blow up beside him. Turned his leg into spaghetti . . .
  • If the tire is undamaged and it just loses a little pressure over time/temp changes there is practically no danger re-inflating the tire. It’s possible but be reasonable. Would you refuse to drop/hook when it’s cloudy because you might get hit by a lightning bolt? You’ll drive yourself crazy if you worry about every tiny possibility.

If it’s losing more than a little pressure or is found low enough to be soft there is a problem. If I’m at a yard, a mechanic will re-inflate and check the tire. Tires don’t just “go flat” without a reason. If the tire seems fine, I’ll run it but I’m not screwing around with tires that have a steady leak.

The regs say leaking tires have to be repaired or replaced. It’s not that I’m an a$$hole, or lazy, but unless you stand up for yourself a lot of these places will sh!t all over you. I’m responsible for the tires I run on so they are going to be good tires or I’m not driving.

  •  Your mechanic was mounting/seating the bead. Getting a bead set on a wheel can sometimes get exciting.

An already seated tire in good condition has about the same chance of blowing up in your face when you add air as I do in becoming the inspiration behind Taylor Swift’s next song.

  • It doesn’t remove your face. It just knocks you unconscious and gives you a major concussion.

 Anyway, the cages are for pressurizing and seating a new tire on a rim. That’s a bit more intense a process then just adding a little bit of pressure to an already inflated and seated tire.

  • Per OSHA: 

1910.177(f)(4) If a tire on a vehicle is underinflated but has more than 80% of the recommended pressure, the tire may be inflated while the rim wheel is on the vehicle provided remote control inflation equipment is used, and no employees remain in the trajectory during inflation.”

 So yes, as long as it didn’t fall below 80% of recommended pressure, the tire has no obvious damage, and you’re using a clip-on chuck with an extension (remote control) – then no tire cage is necessary.

 That being said, the above quoted OSHA reg applies to mechanics and not drivers. As a driver, you can use a regular ‘ol air chuck.

 Rare to see a self-service air line at a truck stop that uses a clip-on chuck and AFAIK, nobody even makes a glad hand hookup inflator rig that uses remote inflator/clip-on capability. I guess if you wanted remote capability from a standard glad hand rig, you’d have to “custom make” your own inflation rig/piece it together from parts. 

 Not worth the added effort or added cost IMO – I’ll just use a regular chuck (combined with common sense safety measures).

  • Man, I don’t even feel safe gaging my tires!
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