There are several aspects of a car that can reduce or enhance your safety and driving pleasure. Elements like the steering and braking systems, the car’s chassis, and its powertrain spring to mind, but we often forget the only part of the vehicle that actually touches the road: the tires. If you want a safe and fun driving experience, you need to buy some new tires once in a while.
Why Are New Tires Better Than Old Ones?
Before discussing what damages tires and when it’s time to change them, we first need to understand why new tires perform better on the road than worn ones. The short answer would be that they provide better grip, but that doesn’t exactly explain why, and in some cases, the opposite may be true, at least for a while.
Besides the quality of the rubber, which is roughly the same even when the tire is used, the most important factor that influences a tire’s grip is its shape. Every physical aspect of the tire, from its length and width to its pattern, is designed to offer optimal grip in all weather conditions. As the tire gets older and more eroded, it loses some of its original shape, including the pattern. This results in slightly better performance on dry roads, hence the reason why most high-performance tires have smoother contact patches, with little or no patterns.
However, this erosion causes the tire to become significantly less reliant in wet weather. The deep patterns you see on a new tire manage to quickly disperse the water underneath the tires. When the tires get too old to properly do this, the car becomes less stable and takes a much longer distance to stop. Of course, the slight superiority of worn tires on dry roads is only temporary, as they will soon start to break down and become very dangerous — they may explode while you’re driving and cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
What Damages Your Tires?
Image via Flickr by The National Roads and Motorists’ Association
A wide variety of factors can influence the rate at which your tires sustain damage. Some of the most important are:
- The manufacturer’s design: Most tires last about as much as their manufacturer intended them to. Some tires are worn out after 40.000 miles, while others can go on almost twice as much.
- Road imperfections: The speed at which your tires break down greatly depends on the quality of the roads you drive on. Roads with many deep potholes, frequent speed bumps, and various pieces of debris are more likely to wear out your tires prematurely, while smooth roads will keep them in decent shape for a longer time.
- Climate conditions: If you live in an area with periods of extreme cold or heat, you may need to change your tires more often than normal.
- Driving style: The way you drive can greatly influence your tires’ long-term condition. Aggressive driving isn’t only dangerous to you, your passengers, and everyone around you; it also puts unnecessary pressure on your car’s tires, causing premature erosion. Also, if you drive long distances at high speeds, that also causes a lot of wear and tear to your tires.
- Lack of basic tire maintenance: Your tires don’t ask for much, but there are little things that you must do to keep them in good condition. Keeping them properly inflated at all times is the most important element of good tire maintenance. However, you should also rotate the front and back tires every few thousand miles to make sure that all four get the same rate of wear.
- Not using the appropriate tires for various seasons and terrains. Driving with winter tires in hot weather will cause them to wear out much sooner. Likewise, using all-terrain tires on asphalt is equally damaging.
When Should You Replace Your Tires?
Now that you know what affects tire quality and why new tires are generally better than old ones, you need to learn how to tell that it’s time for new ones. You can use the manufacturer’s recommended limits, which are usually around 25,000 miles or ten years, but as we saw earlier, there are several other factors that slow down or hasten the wear and tear. These are some of the things you can look for when deciding whether it’s time to buy new tires:
- Tread wear: The treads that form the patterns on the tire are the best indicator of a tire’s shape. Most tire treads have tread wear indicators, which are small bars molded inside the grooves. These bars are raised at 2/32 inches, which is the depth at which the tire becomes unsafe. So, when the tread aligns with the bars, you know it’s time for new tires.
- Steering wheel vibration: Worn-out tires also affect your driving experience. If you feel a vibration in the steering wheel, or if the car doesn’t corner as precisely as before, it’s likely because of the tires.
- Small bulges and bubbles: If you notice any strange round shape on your tire, it’s a sign that its inner frame is damaged. You should change it right away, regardless of its age or overall condition, as it can explode at any time.
- Sidewall cracks or cuts: Sometimes, you can see a tire’s age by looking at its sidewall. Over time, it naturally develops small cracks, which gradually get larger and affect the tire’s integrity. Noticing these cracks is a definite sign that you should change your tires.
- Lodged stones or nails: Having a nail stuck in your tire doesn’t necessarily mean it will deflate right away, but it’s safer to fix it when you notice it instead of waiting for the tire to go flat. The repair shop staff may even be able to fix it without you needing to replace the tire, but you should visit them right away.
Getting a new set of tires can significantly improve your car’s safety and enhance driving pleasure. Given the fact that dealerships usually hold large stocks of tires, you’re likely to get a better price for new tires than you would from other retailers. If you’re looking for a fresh set of tires, pay us a visit at Huffines Hyundai Plano!