We thought we’d address tire care in the middle of summer when it’s unlikely that you are dealing with extreme weather and poor road conditions and have experienced an emergency. This can push you into purchasing tires under duress which is best to avoid. Perhaps this way you make a more sound and informed decision and save yourself a few bucks too.
Tire wear is caused by friction and it is generated from simple driving. It is what actually allows a vehicle to move across the road. If there was no friction, the car would not move forward. Ice, for example, provides no friction and is in fact a hazard as such because there is no control. Though friction is necessary, there is a price to pay. As tires move over any material with friction, the sheer force involved is distributed and absorbed by the road or surface, the car itself and naturally, the tires, causing small amounts of rubber to burn off.
Tread Wear – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there are at least 400 deaths in the U.S. annually attributed to tire failure and they recommend, regardless of use, that tires be replaced every six years with maximum service life of tires being 10 years. But, in a nutshell, tires become unsafe when they’re worn, and once the tread is down to 1/16th of an inch, the tire is no longer safe. (In fact, in some states, it’s illegal to ride on tires below this number.) Newer tires have a convenience that older tires lacked. They have tread wear indicator bars built into the tires themselves. These bars, invisible or barely visible when the tires are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down.
Most tires are designed to provide similar performance throughout their lives. However, at some point they start to lose their performance in terms of their traction and braking ability and this deterioration affects overall car efficiency. Front and rear tires wear differently because they’re asked to do different jobs and this factor is one which mandates us to rotate our tires (see below) so that they wear as evenly as possible and we maximize our purchase.
But, not all problems with tires are affiliated with tread. There are sidewall problems (tracks, cuts or distinct grooves) and the outer surface of a tire can weaken (bulges or blisters), creating a weak spot that could cause a sudden blow out. Much of this will be obvious to you upon simple inspection but if you suspect a problem such as this, time is of the essence and your car needs to be looked at immediately.
Vibration – If you notice an unusual degree of vibration when driving, there is a chance that there is an underlying problem either affecting your tires or coming from the tires themselves. Some causes may be that your tires are misaligned or unbalanced or even that your shock absorbers are ineffective and need replacement. Vibration can also indicate that there is an internal problem within the tire itself. Even if the tire isn’t the root cause of the vibration, the vibration could damage the tire.
Appropriate Inflation – One of the most basic things that a car owner can contribute to basic car care is to properly inflate his tires and in doing so, preserve them. Tires, when properly inflated, contribute to the quality and safety of your vehicle just as they carry the entire weight of your car. It’s no easy feat but your cooperation is essential.
Importance of Valves and Valve Stems – Check your air pressure monthly and definitely prior to a long trip. Don’t neglect to inflate your spare tire as well. This should be done when your tires are “cold” and make sure that your tires have valves that have not deteriorated. Be sure and buy new valves when you do replace your tires because if they are defective, you may be experiencing air loss.
Furthermore, ensure that you have valve caps not only because they maintain the air pressure. They also keep out moisture, dust and particles of dirt, which interfere with the proper operation of the valve core, causing air loss.
Balancing – Whenever you replace tires, you need to have your wheels balanced so that you minimize eccentric tread wear, vibration and the stress on the front end of your car. Balancing counteracts centrifugal forces which cause unusual wear on your car and eliminate vertical bouncing and side-to-side wobble in cars.
Rotation – Regularly rotating your tires ensures that all the tires wear evenly and in fact, last longer. If no period is specified in your owner’s manual, it’s recommended that they be rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. If you possess a full-size spare tire, that too should be included in this rotation process.
Wheel Alignment – Your last consideration is that of vehicle wheel alignment which refers basically to a vehicle’s front and rear suspension parts and ensures that the vehicle handles properly which in turn increases the life and performance of your tires. You will want to have your alignment checked if you routinely drive over potholes and railroad crossings or have been involved in a major accident. Other signs of necessary alignment are if you’ve hit something while driving, you notice a pattern of wear developing on the tires’ shoulders or if your vehicle isn’t handling properly.
We certainly hope that these tips assist you and your family to stay safe and enjoy the summer! At Davis Body Shop, we are happy to discuss any car-related topic with you. Drop by or simply ring us up….our numbers are: Atascadero (805) 466-2446 or Paso Robles (805) 239-8752.
Author: Deborah S. Cohen / FreshBuzz