Are You Driving on Bad Tires?

It is easy to take your tires for granted. If you are a driver who tends to neglect regular tire care, you may miss important signs that your tires are no longer in good shape. The condition of your tires has a direct effect on your vehicle’s performance and your safety on the road. Driving on bad tires is extremely dangerous, and you might not even know you are doing it. 

Bad Tires

 

Signs of Tire Trouble

Signs of tire problems may begin with small cracks in the rubber on the surface and inside of the tire. Over time, the cracking accelerates, and eventually the steel belting in the tread detaches from the tire. Once this happens, the tire is bad and no longer safe. We cannot stop the aging that ultimately leads to bad tires, but hot temperatures, under inflation, and poor tire maintenance are known to speed up the aging process. 

How Long Should Your Tires Last?

According to Car and Driver, the general consensus is that “most tires should be inspected, if not replaced, at about six years” and definitely “swapped out after 10 years, regardless of how much tread they have left.”

How to Determine a Tire’s Age

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires a DOT number to be printed on the sidewall of every tire. Tires manufactured after 2000 will end in a four-digit code. The first two digits indicate the week the tire was manufactured. The second two digits identify the year.  If your tire ends in a three-digit code, it is over 20 years old and should definitely be replaced.

To learn more about your tires, the Tire Safety Group offers a free tire facts app. Available for Android and iPhone, the app enables you to get a free Tire Facts Report by entering the DOT code from your tire.  The report lets you know if a tire is old, defective, or has been the subject of a recall. The app shows you where to find the code on the tire and even includes a flashlight function to help you see the code clearly!

The Winter Driving Hazard Most Drivers Don’t Think About

Driving during the winter months can be downright stressful. In our last post, we looked at preventable problems associated with cold weather driving, but, no matter how prepared you may be, slick roads are potentially dangerous for everyone. While road salt provides an effective way to deal with ice on the roads, it also creates an additional winter driving hazard that most people do not even think about.

icy-roads

Road salt exposure throughout the winter season has a punishing effect on the metal components of your vehicle. Most auto designs have an exposed underbody, which means the majority of salt damage occurs underneath the car, where it goes visually undetected. Rust on essential parts of your car can leave you with huge problems ranging from brake system leaks to frame damage. Rubber tires are mostly resistant to salt damage, however, your metal wheels are highly vulnerable to salt damage.

Vehicle manufacturers understand this winter driving issue, so the coatings and paint finishes used in today’s automotive manufacturing do a much better job of providing protection against salt damage. Also working to our advantage is the fact that corrosion and rust do not happen quickly. This means that you have time to undo salt damage potential with regular car washes.

Car Wash

It does not take long for salt and dirty snow to make your car virtually unrecognizable. But washing your vehicle when it’s just going to get dirty again the second you hit the road probably seems like a waste of time and money. On the contrary, regular washes are definitely worth the investment because they are the best way to remove the road salt that is a serious corrosion hazard. 

How frequently should you wash your vehicle? That depends on how much salt and road sludge it is exposed to on a regular basis. If you have really expensive wheels, consider swapping them out during the winter season, since salt is particularly hard on chrome. For extra protection, make it part of your fall routine to wax your vehicle. Waxing in the fall will help make your winter washes more effective.

Three Ways to Lower the Cost of Driving

In the past century, owning a car has gone from being a luxury to a necessity, with the average number of cars per household in the U.S. at 1.88 in 2017. While car ownership is more prevalent these days, it still is an expensive proposition. From the initial cost of the car and insurance, to the price of gas and maintenance, when you add it all up, the cost of driving is considerable.

cost of driving

There are definitely things you can do to get the most value from your investment, beginning with buying the right car. Make sure the car you select is dependable. It is also a good idea to choose one that delivers good fuel economy. Most importantly, during the car buying process, be honest and realistic about your budget so you aren’t weighed down with monthly payments you cannot afford.

Once you have purchased your vehicle and insurance, the opportunities to save don’t end. There are additional ways you can lower the cost of driving that will provide you with a little extra financial breathing room.

  1. Make sure you stick with a regular car maintenance schedule.

Following the regular schedule of recommended maintenance will not only keep your car running more dependably, it will decrease the cost of repairs and replacements for preventable issues. While you do have to pay for things like tire rotation, oil changes, and wheel alignment, these costs are far less than the major problems that will result from neglecting maintenance. 

Regular maintenance typically includes services like brake checks and service, wheel alignment, tire rotation, oil filter changes, fluid checks, air filter changes and brake checks. Always read check your owner’s manual for your car’s specific requirements. 

  1. Make changes to your driving habits.

It is actually surprising how much money you can save by making some changes to your driving habits. Ride sharing will save you gas and mileage on your car. Planning shopping trips and errands can also help you consolidate trips for additional savings. If you are not familiar with the route options when driving somewhere, use an app to help you determine the most efficient way to reach your destination. 

  1. Optimize your fuel efficiency.

Aside from buying a car with good gas mileage, there are other things you can do to improve your fuel efficiency. Avoid jackrabbit starts – make it a habit to accelerate gently. Do not use your car as a storage facility. The extra weight of a loaded trunk will have an impact on your fuel economy. Lastly, keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure. This will improve fuel efficiency and extend the life of your tires.

Tire Pressure: What You Need to Know About the Cold

In the winter, when temperatures start dipping, it is not uncommon to see your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light come on more frequently than it normally does. The reason for this lies in the way a TPMS works. 

tire in snow
Tire pressure monitoring systems use sensor technology to detect when tire pressure in one of the tires goes below a predetermined level. If the tire pressure in one or more of your tires drops, the light comes on. Since the environmental air pressure decreases in frigid temperatures, the air pressure in a tire goes down 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change. This is why you will often see the TPMS light more frequently.

Does this mean you can ignore the TPMS light in the winter? While there may be a weather related explanation for the light, it is still important to check your tire pressure, and to check the pressure when the tires are cold. The reason being that once you hit the road, friction will cause the tires to heat up, increasing the pressure within the tire. Checking the tire pressure after you have been driving awhile may give an inaccurate pressure reading.

Proper tire inflation is always important, but it is particularly important in the cold winter months when weather conditions make driving more hazardous. This is because:

  • Low tire pressure can make a vehicle handle poorly
  • Tires tend to wear out much faster when they are not properly inflated
  • Under inflated tires tend to overheat, which could lead to a blowout
  • Low tire pressure reduces gas mileage and costs you money

It is a good idea to check your tire pressure once a month. To obtain the most accurate pressure level, wait about 30 minutes after parking or check the pressure in the morning.

Five Tire Care Resolutions You Can Make to Save Money

Thinking about improvements you can make to save money in the new year? Here are five tire care resolutions that will help your tires perform better. How will these tire care tips save you money? Following them diligently will significantly extend the life of your tires and value of your tire investment. Additional benefits you will get include better gas mileage and greater safety on the road.

Tire Care Resolutions

  1. Regularly Check Your Tire Tread

Follow these easy steps to check your tire tread depth:

  1. Hold a penny so that “In God We Trust” appears across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire, taking note of the visibility of Lincoln’s head.
  2. If you can consistently see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time to go shopping for a new set of tires.
  3. If the top of Lincoln’s head (to about the forehead hairline) is covered throughout the tread grooves, the tread is in good shape and your tires probably do not need replacement.
  1. Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly

Take time to check your tire pressure at least once a month.  While it doesn’t take long to do, it could save you big by improving your tire life and gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual to confirm the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires. Remember that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare when you check your other tires, so it is ready when you need it.

  1. Have Your Tires Balanced

Make sure tire balancing is part of your regular maintenance routine.  Again, check your owner’s manual for the recommended schedule for your car, truck, or SUV. Tire balancing promotes a smooth ride and even tire wear by correctly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle.

  1. Have Your Tire Alignment Checked

Improper tire alignment will not only decrease the life of your tires due to uneven tread wear, it will also compromise the safety of your vehicle. Have the alignment checked any time you notice problems with your vehicle’s handling to assure your safety and protect your investment.

  1. Have your Tires Rotated

Rotating your tires on a regular basis is an essential part of tire maintenance that will significantly extend their service life. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for the tire rotation recommendations for your particular vehicle.

5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Tires Last Longer

tire on roadDriving on tires that are in good condition is critical to your safety and that of your passengers. If that was not reason enough to take good care of your tires, consider how much you spent on them. Wouldn’t you like to have them last as long as possible?

Like any other essential component of your vehicle, tires require proper care and maintenance to keep them performing safely, and to assure they provide optimal driving performance.

Did you know there are five easy things you can do to make sure your tires last as long as possible? Check out this list of simple ways to get the most out of your tire investment.

  1. Check tire inflation 

As underinflated tires meet the road, an additional load is placed on the shoulder of the tire, causing that area to wear prematurely. Underinflated tires also build up internal heat, which increases rolling resistance and in turn reduces fuel  economy. Tire air pressure should be checked monthly and it is best to consistently use the same tire gauge. Remember to check pressure when the car has been parked for at least a few hours so the tires are cool. Keep them inflated to the level recommended in your owner’s manual.

  1. Keep an eye on your tread wear

Most drivers don’t think to check tread wear unless they have driven through unavoidable debris. It is important, however, to inspect your tire tread regularly in order to catch wear trends before they cause major wear issues. Problems can be spotted by visual inspection or by running your hand over the tread and feeling it. Distortion in the tread, feathering, or cupping are all abnormalities you should watch for. If caught early, bad wear patterns can often be countered to extend the tire service life.

  1. Keep up on vehicle alignment service.

When unusual tread wear is spotted, poor vehicle alignment is often the culprit. Accelerated tread wear occurs on certain areas of the tire when they are unable to move in straight ahead position. Regular alignment keeps the vehicle from experiencing a variety of problems, including uneven and premature tread wear.

  1. Keep up on tire rotation service

Like alignment service, tire rotation should be performed on a consistent basis. Keeping up with scheduled tire rotation will promote even tread wear and extend tire service life.

  1. Inspect and replace wheel and suspension components  as necessary

While not something you may consider when you think of tires, wheel and suspension components can have a considerable impact on tire service life. An improperly torqued wheel bearing can cause improper tire wear, and worn shock absorbers can create depression wear on treads. Don’t wait until problems occur – replace shock absorbers and other suspension components on a regular schedule.

 

What Happens During Tire Rotation Service?

Tire Rotation ServiceWhen your service technician rotates the tires on your car, typically the front tires are exchanged with the rear tires. In most cases the driver side tires stay on the driver side and the passenger side tires stay on that side, however with certain types of vehicles or tires this approach may vary.

Tire rotation service is an essential maintenance operation that over time will save you money by protecting your tire investment. Rotating your tires is so important because of the different ways front and rear tires wear. Front tires are subjected to much more pressure than rear tires, so the tread wears faster on the front tires. By rotating the tires, you can balance out the wear, getting the most out of all four tires, and making sure that all four tires have a safe amount of tread. This is why regular tire rotation also enhances driving safety. And as if safety were not reason enough to have regular tire rotations done, keep in mind that inconsistent tread wear can lead to poor performance and bad gas mileage.

Tire rotation service will keep your vehicle safe and to keep your tires properly maintained to get the most from them. Generally speaking, tire rotation is recommended every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Your service manual will provide you with the best maintenance schedule for your particular make and model vehicle.

 

Taking Care of Tires and Tread

Tires and TreadTires are perhaps the most important and most overlooked safety features of your car. In our last post, we looked at why tire tread is so important. This follow up post will look at how taking care of your tires and tread will assure they remain safe and keep performing at their best.

What Can I Do to Protect My Tires and Tread?

Tire tread is a key performance feature of your tires. Periodic tire tread checks are important to the preservation of your tires. Drivers don’t often think of inspecting their tread unless they have a noticeable leak or have had an encounter with glass or other road debris. Looking at your tire tread regularly provides you with the opportunity to notice wear trends before excessive damage can occur. Issues can be identified by sight inspection or by running your hand over the tread and feeling for problematic areas. These might include distortion in the tread, feathering or cupping. If caught early enough, bad wear patterns can be corrected to extend tire service life.

Keeping your tires properly inflated is also an extremely important part of tire maintenance and extending tire life. If tire inflation decreases to a level that is below the recommended pressure, an additional load is placed on the shoulder of the tire. This will cause that area to wear prematurely. Another problem with under-inflation is that it causes heat to build up within the tire, which increases rolling resistance and reduces fuel economy.

What Services Do I Need to Preserve My Tires and Tread?

Per your owners’ manual, wheel alignment is an essential regular maintenance service you need. This service has a direct effect on your tires because poor vehicle alignment is a very common cause of unusual tread wear. When tires are unable to run straight ahead, accelerated tread wear occurs on certain parts of the tire. Consistent alignment service will prevent your vehicle from experiencing a variety of alignment related problems, including uneven and premature tread wear.

Tire rotation should be performed on an regular basis. A consistent and documented schedule of tire rotation will extend tire service life by promoting even tread wear.

Compromised wheel and suspension components can also adversely impact tire service life. For example, a wheel bearing that has been incorrectly torqued can cause irregular tire wear, or a worn shock absorbers can create depression wear on treads. Rather than waiting until trouble strikes, replace shock absorbers and other suspension components as part of regular maintenance.

 

Why Tire Tread is So Important

Tire TreadIn terms of safety, there may not be a more important component on your vehicle than its tires. Tires have evolved significantly since the earliest types, which were designed primarily for utility. Now, tires are made from specially formulated rubber compounds and the tread is engineered to provide specific safety features.

The First Tires

The earliest wheels were simply a solid curved piece of wood. As Continental Tires describes, “… leather was added to soften the ride. As time progressed it became solid rubber which led to today’s tire–the pneumatic, or air inflated, radial tire.”

Charles Goodyear is credited in the 1800’s with the discovery of the vulcanization process used to transform sticky raw rubber to firm pliable material which makes rubber a perfect material for tires. Tires were fabricated from solid vulcanized rubber until later in the century, when John Boyd Dunlop developed the popular pneumatic tire.

From that point, tire design gradually became more and more sophisticated with the development of bias ply tires and radial tires.

The Significance of Tire Tread

Tire tread is another important development in tire evolution. The tire tread is the part of the tire that actually meets the road. The elements of tire tread include tread blocks or tread lugs, tread grooves, tread voids, wear bar, and any extra features such as a rain grooves and siping. Tire tread spans the entire surface of the tire from shoulder to shoulder where the tread approaches the sidewall.

The areas between the tread blocks are referred to as the tread voids or tread grooves. Tread voids provide the tire with traction by enabling the tread blocks to move and flex as the tires to grip the road. They also allow the water to escape when roadways are wet. Tires with a high tread to void ratio provide better wet traction and braking ability.

Just as vehicles are engineered with a particular type of performance in mind, there are specific tread types and patterns that match each kind of intended performance. Tire tread is helps vehicles to corner tighter, accelerate more smoothly, and brake reliably. Tire tread is also capable of helping to maximize fuel economy.

Now that you know a little more about the importance of tire tread, you will understand why proper tire tread maintenance is so critical. In our next post, we will take a closer look at the best ways to maintain your tires and tire tread.

Why Wheel Alignment and Tire Balancing Extend Tire Life

Wheel Alignment and Tire Balancing Extends Tire LifeTires are an expensive investment! Shouldn’t you be doing all you can to protect your tires so they will deliver the longest service life? Wheel alignment and tire balancing are two recommended services that will absolutely improve tire performance and extend tire service life.

How Wheel Alignment Extends Tire Life

Sometimes referred to as “front end alignment” or “tire alignment”, wheel alignment service involves the adjustment of the angle of your vehicle’s wheels to the original position recommended by the manufacturer. Improper wheel or tire alignment can cause your tires to wear unevenly and prematurely.

Wheel alignment includes inspecting tire tread for signs of poor alignment as well as checking the toe, camber, and caster to precisely measure wheel orientation. Wheel alignment checks are typically recommended every 10,000 miles. You may need wheel alignment service before your recommended service time if you notice the vehicle pulling to one side, or if the vehicle has recently been in a collision.

How Tire Balancing Extends Tire Life

Tires lose balance as you drive, so periodic tire balancing service is needed to return proper balance. As the miles on your tires accumulate tread wear causes the distribution of weight around the tire to change, creating an imbalance. Unusual shaking or vibration as you drive can result from this imbalance. Out-of-balance tires are uneven and experience faster tread wear.

During tire balancing service, the technician will use a calibrated spin balancer, testing non-moving or static balance as well as moving or dynamic balance. Tires will be adjusted to the proper balance in accordance with the test results. Tire balancing is usually every 5-6,000 miles or 6 months.

Wheel alignment and tire balancing services are not expensive and do not take a lot of time to get done. It is well worth the effort to extend tire life and protect your tire investment.