Although they just sit there benignly under your car, waiting to do your bidding, your car’s tires have a very big story to tell you, if you’d just listen to them. Well, that’s stretching a point, it’s more likely you learn to see what they’re saying by watching how they wear because easy type of wear is easy to spot and can cause your tires to wear out faster than they have to.
For example, if you notice that your tires are wear faster on the outside than at the center – to be more precise where the bead and sidewall meet – then you can lay a bet that your tire is underinflated. Underinflation causes the tires to run so that the walls have more contact with the road than the center of the tread and the results are pretty traumatic.
Not only do underinflated tires run hotter than properly inflated tires, they also wear out more quickly and can pose more danger. The reason they run hotter is that the air inside the tire heats up more quickly and tries to expand to fill the space that should be filled by the proper air pressure. This heat has to go somewhere and it usually goes into the tire carcass itself and weakens it. Underinflation can also cost you a mile a gallon as the car has to overcome the rolling resistance caused by the underinflation.
If your tires are running overinflated, the converse is true. They tend to wear in the center of the tread before they wear in on the sides. They also ride harder and if you hit road debris or a pothole you can easily cause more damage because they are harder and may either bruise or cause damage to the wheel. It’s true that you gain a tiny percentage mileage increase, but it is not enough, say the experts at Goodyear Tire and Rubber, to overcome the damage to the tire. Overinflated tires also run warmer than tires that are properly filled.
Where do you find the correct tire information? There are three prominent places: 1. Is on a placard on the door; 2. is on the sidewall of the tire, and 3.is in the glovebox.
Tires can also tell you when it is time for a new alignment because you will find them with a cupped appearance as they roll. This is because the tires are flexing from side to side as they roll and this is causing extra where, as well as cutting your mileage. A good analogy to this is imagine pushing a wheelbarrow when a wheel that is slightly bent to the right and keeping the barrow straight. You can do it, but it does require a great deal more effort, doesn’t it. A couple of smart raps from a hammer, straightening the wheel and you’re rolling again quite painlessly.
Here’s another interesting tip for your long-term tire health, if you are going to be doing some long-distance, high-speed driving with extra weight in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to add about 4 pounds of pressure temporarily to help out.
Tire care is easy if you watch for the signs and listen when your tires talk to you.