What Your Tires Are Trying To Tell You

You probably don't think much about your tires until you get a flat. Then they become a critical part of your driving experience because without them you go nowhere. Don't wait until you're stuck in your work or grocery store parking lot needing a spare tire to get home. Here is what makes your tires so important and how to interpret when you need to get in for tire service quickly.

It's All About the Tread

Your tires are made up of layers of rubber, fiberglass and metal on the inside. This gives your tires their shape and flexibility. On the outside, your tires are made up of four components that keep the tire stable on the road:

  • Lugs - This is the part of the rubber that comes into contact with the road. It's also the only part that wears down as you drive and the reason why you need new tires periodically.
  • Voids - This is the open space around and between the lugs. This space allows the lugs to flex and grip the road in wet and dry conditions.
  • Grooves - These are channels going across the tire that move water from beneath the tire out to the sides. Grooves keep you from floating on top of water on the roadway.
  • Sipes - These are smaller channels cut across the tire to push more water out from under the tire. Sipes are usually cut into the tire at the tire stores at your request.

Tire Wear and Road Safety

When the lugs wear down below the minimum suggestion, there is no longer enough rubber to grip the road safely. In extreme cases, a bald tire with almost no lugs can't hold onto the road and will hydroplane on top of surface water. Your ability to stop the car is diminished and you put yourself at risk of being in an accident. There are several ways to make sure your tires are safe for you to drive on.

  • Check the wear bar - This is a small strip of rubber that extends across the tire in the grooves. On a new tire, the top of the wear bar is below the top of the lug. This bar represents the minimum amount of lug you can have and still have a safe tire. Compare the height of the wear bar with the lug and, when they are the same, it's time to shop for new tires.
  • Use a penny - Hold a penny upside down and place it into a groove next to a lug. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, you lug has worn down below safe limits.
  • Wear gauge - Most tire shops offer free tire testing. They have a gauge that tells them precisely how much good tire you have left.

Inspecting Your Tires for Problems

The way your tires wear is also a sign of different problems with the tires or your car.

  • The center of the tire is more worn than the edges - This means the tire is over-inflated. Let air out of the tire until it contains the right air pressure, as indicated on the side of the tire.
  • The edges of the tire are more worn than the center - This means the tire is under-inflated. Put air into the tire until it has the indicated amount of air in it.
  • One edge of the tire is more worn than the other - This means you have a problem with the front alignment of your car. It's time for a trip to the auto shop to have that adjusted.

If you don't address these conditions, you'll decrease the life of the tires and risk a tire failure while driving.

To learn more, contact a tire service company like Jafstram Imported Car Service