Fuel for Thought

Not A Club Member

By Greg Huggins
Posted May 4th 2022 4:25AM

Within the trucking industry, at least among a lot of drivers, there has been a long standing joke about spotting the elusive pre-trip inspection that every truck driver is supposed to do before starting their driving shift. If you spend enough time on the road, you will notice how most drivers pre-trip their equipment - a bathroom visit and/or breakfast, then turn the key and go. Sure you can see some drivers sitting behind the wheel while their lights flash on and off, 4 ways might blink once or twice and then off they go - never getting out to see if they worked. And let’s not forget all those drivers that do get out and thump their tires. You might see a driver in a parking lot with a small club or a rubber mallet or just their boots, hitting or kicking their tires. This seems to be the most common (and most extensive) form of a pre-trip inspection seen frequently in truck stop parking lots around the country. I have seen this for years. I bet more rubber mallets are sold to truck drivers than to any other profession. These tire thumpers and tire kickers have to be the most mysterious group of truck drivers who actually try to perform a pre-trip inspection. One, they are actually getting out their trucks and kicking or thumping all their tires. Two, they have invested in a tool to check tire pressures. Three, they are doing more to pre-trip their equipment than most do on a daily basis. Kudos to them for the effort.

Yes, I said mysterious group. The mystery to me is, where do you go to find a boot calibrator? What chain of specialty shops calibrates mallets and tire thumpers? It must be some secret society thing. Some wizard that can be summoned to transform a seemingly ordinary length of wood into an accurate tire pressure gauge. I have been on the road for decades, yet I have never encountered the tire wizard or seen these secret handshake calibrators of wooden sticks and mallets. I guess I have been shopping for boots in the wrong place all these years as well. Not once did any shoe store clerk offer to calibrate my boots, not even as an upcharge sell at checkout. 

All these years, I have been using a tire gauge. I have replaced several of my tire gauges over the years and I can’t recall any time where someone suggested I just get my boots calibrated or that I should get a magical mallet or a calibrated tire thumper. If I did locate such a person or shop that performs these calibrations, I’ll be darned if I can find anywhere to read the PSI numbers on my boots. And I have never even seen a driver look at their mallet after thumping a tire to see the PSI of that tire. Do they just work on Bluetooth? I do see many of them on their phones while thumping tires. But what about years ago? We didn’t have Bluetooth yet there were those mallet wielding drivers thumping those tires.

Apparently after all this time on the road, I still have not reached the top of the trucker’s ladder. No special mallet or magical tire thumper and no calibrated boots to inform me of my tire pressures. I have kicked my tires before, but I could not feel or hear or see the difference between 100 psi or 105 psi. I do own a mallet, but have never tried to check tire pressures with it. I have never been the proud owner of the tire thumper club. I guess I will just have to settle for a tire gauge. It works well, it is accurate and only takes a few minutes to gauge my tires. 

See you down the road,