Modern vehicles, with all of their elite technical refinements, still need four healthy hunks of round rubber on the wheels to make use of that fuel injected, computer controlled engine under the hood. Remember your life depends on 4 tire surfaces roughly the size of your outstretched hand. Whether it’s a slow leak or a dangerous freeway speed blowout, it’s never convenient when your tires decide to flatten your day.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to monitor your tires and identify potential failure before it ruins your day or, even worse, harms you, your loved ones or your vehicle.
Obviously, tires are the only parts of the car that physically touch the ground. Therefore, they are the essential factors affecting your vehicle’s handling and braking. As an educated driver, you need to get acquainted with your tires and know their appearance, make, model number and proper inflation level (usually in pounds per square inch, or PSI). When purchasing snow tires always purchase sets of 4 for frontwheel or all wheel drive vehicles. The snow flake designations on the tire sidewall indicates that the rubber compounds contain silica to allow the tires to remain flexible when the mercury drops below – 15 degrees celcius.
You should visually inspect your tires on a regular basis. If you note any early warning signs, immediately ask a professional to inspect them. He or she will be able to check and correct items that cause the warning. In some situations, you may need to replace your tires.
Surveys show that as many as half the cars on the road may be riding on one or more underinflated tires. Part of the problem is that tires lose air through the rubber and the sealing surfaces of the the wheel especially aluminum wheels. These leaks can be so slow and subtle that many people don’t realize it’s happening. Seasonal temperature changes may also cause the tire pressure to drop as the tire deflates with colder weather.
Because the sidewall flexes more at lower tire pressures, underinflation compromises the driving control that a tire provides. Even a small pressure loss can affect a car’s handling, making it harder to control. Such a loss can also make the ride softer and the car drift. Underinflated tires lower a vehicle’s fuel economy, which will cost you money at the gas pump.
A sidewall that flexes too much can also cause heat to build up excessively, which can shorten a tire’s life and possibly lead to a dangerous tread separation or blowout. If you see stretch marks or any other signs of strain around your sidewall, consult a professional.
By following these simple steps, you’ll not only save money on new tires before you need to spend it. You’ll also ensure safe driving and protect you and your passengers.