There tends to be a lot of misinformation and myths about tire safety. Some of these tire safety myths could put you and your family in danger when your tires don't perform as you may expect them to. We’ve provided a few tire facts below to provide accurate and reliable information for you and your vehicle.
Truth: Even if you have front-wheel drive, it's safer to install new tires on the rear axle rather than the front one. Why? Putting new tires on the front axle offers less hydroplane resistance, making your vehicle more prone to a driving condition called oversteer. An oversteer condition is more difficult to control in the event your vehicle hydroplanes.
However, when you put new tires on the rear axle, the front tires will hydroplane first, causing a condition called understeer, which is much easier to correct.
Due to some vehicle restrictions, new tires might not be installed on the rear axle only. Additionally, you should make sure your remaining tires still have plenty of tread depth before replacing only two tires.
The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warns you when you have low tire pressure, so you don't need to check it yourself, right?
Truth: Actually, the TPMS warning light may not come on until your tire pressure is 25% below your vehicle's recommended air pressure. That means your air pressure could be low enough to impact handling and fuel efficiency long before the light comes on.
Even if your vehicle has a TPMS system, you should check your tire air pressure at least once a month. Ideally, you never want to see your TPMS light come since you should fill your tires before they get low enough to trigger the TPMS system.
Truth: While low-profile tires paired with large diameter wheels may improve the steering response by reducing sidewall flex, that doesn't translate to overall improved handling. The rubber compound, vehicle suspension, and tread design play the biggest role in handling performance.
Truth: The air pressure listed on a tire's sidewall is actually the maximum air pressure at which the tire can be safely operated for the maximum load of the tire. The vehicle manufacturer determines the recommended air pressure and lists it in the owner's manual and on the door placard.
However, if you change your vehicle's load index or tire size from the original equipment, you may need a new recommended air pressure. Mavis Tires and Brakes can help you determine that with a load/inflation table.
Truth: Just looking at or kicking your tires may lead you to think they're properly inflated, but only an air pressure gauge can accurately measure air pressure. Without using a proper tire gauge, you could be driving on underinflated tires, which puts unnecessary strain on them.
Truth: Tires with the same size designation can actually vary slightly in size from brand to brand and model to model. This is especially important when it comes to tire mixing, particularly if you drive an all-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Truth: While tread depth is indeed important when it comes to tire safety, it isn't the only thing that can compromise your tire's performance. Another important factor to consider is how old the tire is. As tires age, the rubber molecules change, causing them to lose structural integrity and grip. Additionally, exposure to UV rays and heat can cause weathering that also damages the tire's structural integrity.
Truth: While you can temporarily fix a flat by using an injected sealant or plugging the hole, they aren't safe long-term fixes because you can't inspect the inside of the tire, which can easily be damaged if you drive on it too long while it's underinflated. Additionally, these temporary fixes don't repair the inner liner – the part of the tire that holds in air.
The best way to repair a tire is to have a professional at Mavis Tires and Brakes fill the hole with solid rubber filler and vulcanize a patch to the inner liner as soon as you can after experiencing a flat tire. This effectively seals the hole and repairs the liner simultaneously. In addition to ensuring the tire will maintain the proper air pressure, it helps keep debris and moisture from entering the tire and causing more damage.
Truth: While it may sound like all-season tires would have the best grip year-round, the opposite is actually true. They give up some wet-weather grip to perform in the snow and give up some snow traction to provide wet-weather grip. In the end, all-season tires don't specifically excel in any season.
Summer tires are the best options during warm weather due to their wide tread voids to evacuate water from the contact patch rapidly and more pliable rubber compound for better grip.
Keep in mind, however, that summer tires are not designed for winter conditions, so if you plan to drive outside locations with warmer weather, you should switch to snow tires or all-season tires for proper cold weather traction.
The tire and car maintenance experts at Mavis Tires and Brakes can help you understand the ins and outs of tires and what you need to do to maintain the upkeep of your vehicle for the safety of you, your family and others on the road. Visit your local Mavis to learn more.