Tire Education From Your Tire Experts
What Tires Do
No matter if you drive a new or used vehicle, all tires perform a few basic functions. This is true if you get summer tires, all-season tires, winter tires, or any other kinds of tires. Understanding what these are will help you select the right tire.
Tires literally carry the weight of the vehicle and anything which is inside. That can be quite a bit of pressure on the tires.
Shocks from bumps and any imperfections in the road are absorbed in part by the tires. While most people think of the suspension performing this job by itself, that’s actually not entirely accurate.
It’s the tires which transfer the power from the engine into actually moving the car forward or back. Through friction with the road surface, they provide the grip necessary to go in a direction. In addition, tires allow the car to change directions, like when you turn the steering wheel one way or another.
As you can see, tires perform some pretty vital roles for your car.
How to Tell New Tires Are Necessary
You might be wondering if your car needs replacement tires. Because they’re relatively expensive, most people don’t want to buy tires until they’ve squeezed as much use as is safe from their current set. Pushing things too far can be dangerous.
Shops use tire gauges to test the exact depth of the tread pattern, which is usually a good indication of when a tire should be swapped out. Since you likely don’t have a gauge, that doesn’t mean you can’t test the tire tread depth yourself.
One method is the penny test. Insert a penny into the tire tread grooves, Abe’s head first. If the tread comes up above any portion of his head, then the tire is at least legal to use in most states. This test simply shows when the tire is below 2/32 inch, which is pretty well worn.
A better method is the quarter test. Use a Washington quarter, inserting it head-first into the tread. If the tread at least comes to the top of Washington’s head, it’s 4/32 inch or deeper, and you’re ok, for now. However, if the tread doesn’t even touch his head, you need to buy some new tires as soon as possible.
There are other signs that a tire is done for and shouldn’t be used any more. You should regularly inspect your tires for bulges in the sidewall, missing portions of the tread, cracks, or other signs of damage. A shop might be able to fix some damage, but it really depends on the severity, location, and the condition of your tires.
As is the case with other items on your car, you need to properly maintain tires, or they won’t last properly. Improperly maintained tires can affect performance negatively, including fuel economy.
The top thing you can do for tire maintenance is to keep a tire air pressure gauge in your car. Measure the tire pressure at least once a month on all four tires, and don’t forget the spare. Most tire pressure monitoring systems will only alert you once the tire pressure is dangerously low, so checking it yourself regularly is wise.
Find the proper tire inflation for your car in the owner’s manual or the sticker in the driver’s door jamb. On some older cars, the information is printed in the glove box. Under inflation will cause the tread on the shoulders or sides of the tires to wear faster. Over inflation will cause the center of the tread to wear excessively. By following the manufacturer’s recommendation for your car, you’ll keep the tires wearing more evenly.
Also, get your tires rotated and balanced at the recommended intervals. This will help guard against uneven tread wear as well. Of course, factors like road conditions have an effect as well.
Just like anything else, tires can be damaged if you’re not careful. This can range from a dramatic tire blowout to the tread just wearing out faster than normal. If you don’t want to be buying new tires again anytime soon, it’s best to beware the following activities:
- Large potholes
- Debris on roads
- Cornering hard constantly
- Speeding constantly
- Consistent, rapid acceleration
- Consistent sudden hard stops
- Driving on dirt roads or trails
- Driving over curbs, islands, etc.
Really, it’s just best to be cautious with your tires. While they can take somewhat of a beating, they’re expensive enough that you should be protective of them.
If you have tires you are not currently using on a vehicle; they should be stored properly. Just throwing tires anywhere can result in their becoming damaged and no longer functional, which is a big waste of money.
Find a cool, dry place which is out of the elements. Keeping the tires where water can get inside them and might lead to a range of problems later. The same thing goes for heat sources like hot water pipes, generators, furnaces, etc.
The storage area should also be free of any gasoline, grease, or similar substances, even in trace amounts. These can literally break the tires down, causing them to crack apart or suddenly burst.
Place the tires on a tire rack, if possible, or lay them on their sides. Tires left resting on the tread can become misshapen, resulting in performance problems later.
Reading Tire Sizes
Most people don’t understand what’s written on a tire’s sidewall, but it’s helpful if you do. One item listed on there is the tire’s size, which is a string of numbers and letters.
The first number is the width of the tire in millimeters. After that is a forward slash, then a number for the tire’s aspect ratio. This is the dimensional relationship of the sidewall height to the tire’s width, as a percentage. Next is the diameter of the wheel the tire will fit on, in inches.
Finally, there’s the load index and the speed rating.
The Uniform Tire Quality Grades (UTQG) rating is also on a tire’s sidewall, as required by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It stands for the treadwear, traction, and temperature resistance for the tire.
The treadwear rating is relative, but a 200 should last twice as long as a 100. Traction is measured at braking distance on wet pavement. AA is the highest rating, while A, B, and C are the other ratings. For the temperature resistance rating, which is either A, B, or C, from highest rating to lowest.
Speed Ratings and Load Index
Speed ratings go from J to Z, indicating the maximum speed the tire can withstand. The higher the letter, the faster you can drive on that tire.
The load index is a numerical rating, usually ranging from 71 to 110. The higher that number, the more weight the tire can handle. Your vehicle manufacturer provides a recommendation for the load index on tires.
Choosing the Right Tires
Whether your just researching or looking to buy new vehicle tires the experts at Viking Motors have you covered. With a massive selection of tires and the guaranteed best pricing in Canada on new tires, you can’t go wrong. Contact us today to book a consultation with your Tire Experts.