Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving

SAFETY > EQUIPMENT > TIRES

Tires

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Amazing technology goes into the design, materials and manufacture of tires (or tyres) and for good reason. There is surprisingly a very small surface area of contact between the tires and road and so we would want to make sure that it counts where it needs to.

Below are some very interesting answers to some very common questions.

Questions:

🛈 Info:

💡 Tips:

Tire Considerations

Traction.

Factors affecting tire traction, or ability to grip without sliding:

  • Tread design.

  • Compound materials.

  • Construction.

  • Inflation pressure.

  • Road surface.

  • Load.

  • Temperature.

Driving Style impact on tires:

  • Driving style has a major effect on the longevity of your tires.

  • Avoid harsh acceleration and braking.

  • Avoid high speed cornering.

Markings on tires:

There are many embossed markings on the sidewall of a tire, however below are the important ones to take note of.

  • 255/55 R16 (Example. Yours may be different):

  •       255 - Tire width. Millimeters from sidewall to sidewall.

  •       55 - Aspect Ratio. Height of the tire sidewall compared to                  its width. In this example 55% of its width.

  •       R - Tire construction:

  •             R = Radial.

  •             B = Bias Belt.

  •             D = Diagonal.

  • 105V:

  •       105 - Load index. Maximum load. See chart.

  •       V - Speed rating. See chart.

  • DOTXXXXXXXX1017 (Example):

  •       10 - Week of manufacture.

  •       17 - Year of manufacture (2017)

  •       Check the manufacture date before purchasing any new          tires.

  • TWI:

  •       Tread Wear Indicator marking. Indicates where the                      treadwear indicator is located on the tread, making it                  easier to find. This marking is located very close to the                outer rim of the sidewall and may use other symbols, such        as a triangle, to show the location of the indicator.

Maintenance.

Safety Equipment Tires
Load Index
Speed Rating

? Which car tires are the best?

Determining the "best" car tires depends on several factors, including the specific needs and preferences of the driver, the vehicle type, driving conditions, and budget.

Different tire models excel in different areas, such as performance, longevity, fuel efficiency, or all-season versatility. Here are some reputable tire brands known for producing high-quality tires:

  • Michelin: Michelin is a well-regarded tire brand known for its innovative tire technology, excellent performance, and long-lasting tread life. They offer a wide range of tires for various vehicles and driving needs.

  • Bridgestone: Bridgestone is a globally recognized tire brand that produces high-performance tires, particularly in the sports and performance segments. They are known for their exceptional grip, responsive handling, and advanced tire technologies.

  • Continental: Continental is known for manufacturing tires with a strong emphasis on safety and performance. They offer a diverse lineup of tires, including all-season, summer, and winter tires, catering to different driving conditions.

  • Pirelli: Pirelli is renowned for producing high-performance and ultra-high-performance tires. They have a strong presence in motorsports and are known for their advanced tire technologies and superior handling characteristics.

  • Goodyear: Goodyear is a well-established tire brand with a wide range of tire options for various vehicle types. They are known for their all-season performance, durability, and innovative tire technologies.

  • Yokohama: Yokohama produces a variety of tires known for their balance of performance, comfort, and fuel efficiency. They offer a range of tires for passenger cars, SUVs, and trucks.

It's important to consider factors such as your specific driving needs, climate conditions, road surfaces, and budget when choosing the right tires for your vehicle. It's also beneficial to read tire reviews, consult with tire professionals, and consider recommendations from vehicle manufacturers or trusted sources to make an informed decision. Ultimately, the best tires for your car will depend on finding the right balance of performance, safety, longevity, and value for your specific requirements.

? Why are new tires slippery?

In the manufacturing process, a lubricant is used to make it easier to release the tires from their molds. This lubricant remains on the tire until worn off. Be aware that this will reduce your traction.

💡 The grooves and sipes (small slits in the tread block) in a tire is not only for grip on the road, but also to be able to disperse water. Therefore, if your tread is worn, be especially cautious in wet weather.

? Why rotate car tires?

Rotating car tires involves periodically changing their positions on the vehicle, typically moving the front tires to the rear and vice versa, or swapping the tires diagonally. Here are the reasons why tire rotation is recommended:

  • Even tire wear: Tires on different positions of a vehicle experience varying levels of stress and wear. For example, front tires tend to wear more quickly than rear tires due to factors such as steering, braking, and weight distribution. By rotating the tires regularly, you can help achieve more even wear across all tires, which extends their lifespan and ensures consistent performance.

  • Maximizing tire performance: As tires wear, their tread depth decreases, affecting their ability to grip the road properly. Uneven tire wear can lead to reduced traction, compromised handling, and decreased braking performance. By rotating the tires, you distribute the wear more evenly, maintaining better overall performance and safety.

  • Balanced handling: Consistent tire wear helps maintain balanced handling characteristics. If the front tires wear out significantly faster than the rear tires, it can result in uneven traction and potentially affect the vehicle's stability and cornering ability. Regular tire rotation helps ensure that all tires wear at a similar rate, promoting balanced handling and improving the overall driving experience.

  • Warranty requirements: Some tire manufacturers include tire rotation as part of their warranty terms and conditions. Adhering to these requirements can help ensure that you maintain the warranty coverage for your tires.

The specific interval for tire rotation varies depending on factors such as the vehicle's make and model, driving conditions, and tire type. It is generally recommended to rotate the tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles (8,000 to 12,000 kilometers), or as advised by the vehicle manufacturer or tire manufacturer.

It's worth noting that certain vehicles, such as those with different-sized front and rear tires or directional tires, may have specific rotation patterns or limitations. It's important to consult your vehicle's owner's manual or seek guidance from a qualified technician to determine the appropriate rotation method for your specific vehicle.

? Why are car tires tubeless?

Car tires have evolved from using inner tubes to being tubeless due to several advantages that tubeless tire technology offers:

  • Reduced risk of punctures: Tubeless tires are designed to seal themselves in case of small punctures. The air pressure inside the tire forces the tire walls to come in contact with the object causing the puncture, effectively sealing it. This self-sealing property reduces the risk of sudden deflation and allows the driver to continue driving for some distance before repairing the tire.

  • Improved safety: Tubeless tires offer better stability and handling compared to tires with inner tubes. They provide a larger contact patch with the road, resulting in improved traction and braking performance. Additionally, in the event of a sudden loss of air pressure, tubeless tires deflate more slowly compared to tube-type tires, providing the driver with more time to react and safely bring the vehicle to a stop.

  • Lower maintenance: Tubeless tires eliminate the need for inner tubes, which can be prone to punctures and leaks. This reduces the maintenance required for checking and replacing tubes. Tubeless tires also tend to hold air pressure better over time, reducing the need for frequent inflation.

  • Weight reduction: Tubeless tires are generally lighter than tube-type tires since they don't require an inner tube. This reduction in weight contributes to improved fuel efficiency and overall vehicle performance.

  • Compatibility with modern tire technology: Tubeless tires are compatible with advancements in tire technology such as tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that monitor tire pressure in real-time. These systems rely on direct contact with the tire, which is easier to achieve with tubeless tires.

It's important to note that not all tires are tubeless, and some vehicles, such as motorcycles or older models, may still use tube-type tires. The choice between tubeless and tube-type tires depends on factors such as the vehicle's design, intended use, and manufacturer specifications.

? Do car tires expire?

Yes, car tires do have an expiration date, although it is not a fixed date like the expiration date on food products. Tire manufacturers typically provide a suggested lifespan for their tires, and it is generally recommended to replace tires after they reach a certain age, regardless of the tread depth or visible wear. This is because tires can degrade over time, even if they have not been extensively used.

The lifespan of a tire is influenced by several factors, including:

  • Tire type: Different types of tires have varying lifespans. Performance-oriented tires, for example, tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to standard all-season tires.

  • Driving conditions: Frequent exposure to extreme temperatures, excessive sunlight, and harsh driving conditions can accelerate tire degradation.

  • Storage conditions: Tires that are stored improperly, such as being exposed to sunlight or extreme temperatures for extended periods, can deteriorate faster.

  • Maintenance and care: Regular maintenance, including proper inflation, alignment, and rotation, can help extend the lifespan of tires.

Tire manufacturers typically recommend replacing tires after six to ten years from their date of manufacture, even if they appear to be in good condition. The manufacturing date of a tire is indicated by the DOT (Department of Transportation) number on the sidewall. The last four digits of the DOT number represent the week and year of manufacture. For example, if the DOT number ends in "2518," it means the tire was manufactured in the 25th week of the year 2018.

It's important to check the age of your tires and consult the manufacturer's recommendations regarding their lifespan. If your tires are approaching the suggested expiration period or show signs of deterioration, it is advisable to have them replaced, even if the tread depth is still adequate. Properly maintained and replaced tires contribute to safer driving and optimal vehicle performance.

? Do car tires need caps?

Car tires do not necessarily need caps, but it is recommended to have valve stem caps installed on each tire. Valve stem caps serve several purposes:

  • Protection: Valve stem caps help protect the valve stem from dirt, dust, moisture, and other debris that can cause damage or lead to air leakage. They act as a barrier, keeping the valve core clean and preventing contaminants from entering the valve system.

  • Air pressure retention: Valve stem caps provide an additional layer of protection against air leakage. While the valve stem itself has a built-in valve core that prevents air from escaping, valve stem caps provide an extra seal that can help maintain optimal tire pressure.

  • Visual identification: Valve stem caps can be used for visual identification purposes. Some caps come in different colors or designs, allowing you to personalize or differentiate your tires. They can also help identify which tires have undergone specific maintenance, such as tire rotations or pressure checks.

  • Theft deterrent: Valve stem caps can act as a theft deterrent. While they may not prevent determined individuals from removing them, having valve stem caps in place can serve as a visual deterrent and make it slightly more difficult for someone to tamper with the valve stems.

While valve stem caps are beneficial, it's important to note that they should be installed properly and not over-tightened. Over-tightening the caps can damage the valve stem or the valve core, leading to air leakage.

If your car's tires are missing valve stem caps, it's recommended to replace them with suitable caps. They are inexpensive and readily available at auto parts stores or tire retailers.

🛈 Why car tires are filled with nitrogen

Car tires can be filled with nitrogen instead of regular air for several reasons:

  • Reduced air pressure loss: Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules, which means they are less likely to permeate through the tire rubber or escape through small leaks. As a result, tires filled with nitrogen tend to maintain their pressure for a longer time compared to those filled with regular air. This can lead to more consistent tire performance and better fuel efficiency.

  • Temperature stability: Nitrogen has a more stable pressure-temperature relationship compared to regular air. This means that as the tire heats up during driving, the pressure increase is less significant with nitrogen-filled tires. This stability can result in more predictable tire performance and reduce the risk of tire blowouts.

  • Moisture prevention: Regular air contains moisture, which can lead to internal corrosion of the tire and rim. Nitrogen, on the other hand, is a dry gas and helps to eliminate moisture inside the tire. This can prolong the lifespan of the tire and prevent damage caused by rust or oxidation.

  • Performance benefits: Nitrogen-filled tires can offer improved handling and stability due to more consistent tire pressure. This can be particularly important for high-performance vehicles or in situations that require precise tire performance, such as racing or emergency maneuvers.

It's worth noting that while nitrogen offers certain advantages, it is not essential for all vehicles or everyday driving. For most standard passenger vehicles, regular air is perfectly suitable for tire inflation. Nitrogen filling is more commonly used in specific applications such as commercial aviation, motorsports, or certain specialized vehicles where precise tire performance is critical.

🛈 Why car tires are black

Car tires are typically black due to the presence of a compound called carbon black in their composition. Carbon black is a finely divided form of carbon that is produced by the incomplete combustion of petroleum products or natural gas. It consists of very small particles that are black in color and have a high degree of light absorption.

There are a few reasons why carbon black is added to tires:

  • Reinforcement: Carbon black enhances the strength and durability of the tire. It helps to reinforce the rubber by increasing its tensile strength and resistance to abrasion. This is particularly important because tires undergo significant stress and wear during their lifetime.

  • Heat dissipation: Tires generate heat as they roll, and carbon black has excellent thermal conductivity properties. It helps to dissipate the heat produced during driving, preventing the tire from overheating.

  • UV protection: Carbon black also acts as a UV stabilizer, protecting the tire from the harmful effects of sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation can cause the rubber to deteriorate over time, leading to cracking and reduced performance. The black color of carbon black absorbs UV rays, minimizing their impact on the tire.

  • Aesthetic reasons: Although the functional aspects mentioned above are the primary reasons for using carbon black, the black color also has aesthetic appeal. Black is a neutral color that is widely accepted and preferred by consumers for its classic and sleek appearance.

It's worth noting that while black is the most common color for tires, there are variations available in the market, such as white, brown, or colored tires. However, these variations are less common and often have specific applications or are used for decorative purposes.

🛈 Why car tires make noise


Car tires can make noise for several reasons, and the specific noise can vary depending on the circumstances and the condition of the tires. Here are some common reasons why car tires make noise:

  • Tread pattern: The design and pattern of the tire's tread can affect the noise level. Some tire treads are specifically designed to provide better traction and handling, but they may generate more noise due to the way the tread blocks interact with the road surface. Aggressive or knobby off-road tires, for example, tend to produce more noise on paved surfaces compared to smooth or low-noise tread patterns found in highway or touring tires.

  • Tread wear: As the tire tread wears down over time, it can contribute to increased noise levels. As the tread depth decreases, the tire's ability to absorb road irregularities and vibrations diminishes, leading to more contact between the tire and the road, which can result in increased noise.

  • Tire type and quality: Different tire types have varying noise characteristics. Performance-oriented tires or high-performance tires often have softer rubber compounds that enhance grip but may generate more noise. On the other hand, tires designed for comfort or reduced noise levels prioritize a quieter ride. Additionally, tire quality can also impact noise levels. Cheaper or lower-quality tires may produce more noise compared to higher-quality tires with advanced noise-reduction technologies.

  • Road surface: The condition and texture of the road surface can influence tire noise. Rough or coarse road surfaces can amplify tire noise, especially if the tires are already generating noise due to their design or condition.

  • Wheel alignment and tire balance: Improper wheel alignment or an imbalance in the tire and wheel assembly can lead to uneven tire wear and vibration, which can result in increased noise. It's important to regularly check and maintain proper wheel alignment and balance to minimize noise and ensure optimal tire performance.

  • Tire damage or irregularities: If a tire is damaged or has irregular wear patterns, it can create noise as it interacts with the road. Common causes of tire damage or irregular wear include underinflation, over inflation, misalignment, and driving over potholes or curbs.

If you notice an unusual or excessive increase in tire noise, it's advisable to have your tires inspected by a qualified technician. They can assess the condition of the tires, identify any potential issues, and recommend appropriate actions to address the noise.

🛈 Why car tires burst

Car tire bursts, also known as tire blowouts, can occur due to several reasons:

  • Underinflation: Insufficient air pressure in a tire is one of the leading causes of tire blowouts. When a tire is significantly underinflated, its sidewalls become more susceptible to flexing and overheating. This increased flexing generates heat, which can cause the tire to weaken and eventually fail, resulting in a blowout.

  • Overloading: Exceeding the tire's maximum load capacity puts excessive stress on the tire, leading to overheating and potential failure. If a vehicle is consistently operated with loads that exceed the recommended limits, it can lead to tire blowouts.

  • Punctures or damage: Sharp objects on the road, such as nails, glass shards, or potholes, can cause punctures or damage to a tire. If the damage is severe or not promptly repaired, it can weaken the tire's structure, making it more prone to blowouts.

  • Age and wear: Over time, tires naturally deteriorate due to aging and wear. As tires age, the rubber compound can degrade, becoming more susceptible to failure. Additionally, if a tire's tread depth becomes too low or if there are signs of uneven wear, it can increase the risk of a blowout.

  • Overheating: Driving for extended periods at high speeds or in hot weather conditions can cause the tire to overheat. Excessive heat can lead to a breakdown of the tire's internal structure and result in a blowout.

  • Manufacturing defects: Although rare, manufacturing defects can contribute to tire blowouts. Defects in the tire's construction or materials, such as weak spots, separations, or improper bonding, can increase the risk of a sudden tire failure.

It's important to regularly inspect your tires for signs of damage, maintain proper tire pressure, and adhere to the manufacturer's recommended load capacity. Additionally, replacing tires that are old or worn out is crucial to minimize the risk of blowouts. If you experience a sudden loss of air pressure or a blowout while driving, it's important to stay calm, maintain control of the vehicle, and gradually slow down to a safe stop on the side of the road.

💡Tips for changing a car tire

Changing a car tire is a valuable skill that every driver should know. Here are detailed steps and tips to help you change a tire safely and efficiently:

Tools You Will Need

  • Spare Tire: Ensure it is properly inflated and in good condition.

  • Car Jack: Matches the weight and lifting points of your vehicle.

  • Lug Wrench: Usually has a socket to fit your lug nuts.

  • Lock Nut Socket (If applicable): Make sure you have in the vehicle. Hide in the vehicle so thieves cannot find it, but make sure you know where to find when needed.

  • Wheel Wedges/Chocks: To prevent the car from rolling.

  • Flathead Screwdriver: To remove the hubcap (if applicable).

  • Car Manual: For specific instructions related to your vehicle.

Safety Precautions

  • Find a Safe Location: Pull over to a safe, flat area away from traffic. Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers.

  • Engage the Parking Brake: Always engage the parking brake before starting the tire change.

  • Use Wheel Wedges: Place wheel wedges or chocks in front of or behind the wheels to prevent rolling.

Steps to Change a Tire

  • Remove the Hubcap or Wheel Cover (if applicable): Use the flathead screwdriver or the edge of the lug wrench to pry off the hubcap gently.

  • Loosen the Lug Nuts: Use the lug wrench to turn the lug nuts counterclockwise until they are loose but do not remove them completely. If they are too tight, use your body weight to help by standing on the wrench handle.

  • Position the Jack: Place the jack under the vehicle at the correct jacking point (consult your car manual). Ensure the jack is on solid ground to prevent slipping.

  • Raise the Vehicle: Slowly jack up the car until the flat tire is about six inches off the ground. Ensure the car is stable as you lift it.

  • Remove the Lug Nuts and the Flat Tire: Finish unscrewing the lug nuts and set them aside in a safe place. Pull the flat tire straight off and set it under the car for added safety (optional).

  • Mount the Spare Tire: Align the spare tire with the lug bolts and push it onto the hub. Hand-tighten the lug nuts as much as possible.

  • Lower the Vehicle Slightly: Lower the car with the jack until the spare tire just touches the ground and is bearing some weight. Do not lower it completely yet.

  • Tighten the Lug Nuts: Tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern (tighten one nut, then the one opposite it) to ensure even pressure. Use the lug wrench to make them as tight as possible.

  • Lower the Vehicle Completely: Lower the car to the ground fully and remove the jack. Give the lug nuts a final tightness check, ensuring they are secure.

  • Replace the Hubcap or Wheel Cover (if applicable): Snap the hubcap or wheel cover back into place.

After Changing the Tire

  • Check Tire Pressure: Use a tire gauge to check the pressure of the spare tire. Inflate to the recommended pressure as needed (refer to your car manual).

  • Secure the Tools and Flat Tire: Place the flat tire, jack, and lug wrench back in the trunk. Ensure all tools are properly secured.

  • Drive Cautiously: Drive to the nearest service station to have the flat tire repaired or replaced. Remember that spare tires, especially temporary ones, are not meant for long distances or high speeds.

Additional Tips

  • Practice: Try changing a tire in your driveway to become familiar with the process.

  • Maintain Your Spare: Regularly check the condition and pressure of your spare tire.

  • Emergency Kit: Keep an emergency kit in your car that includes gloves, a flashlight, and reflective triangles for added safety.

By following these steps and tips, you can change a car tire safely and efficiently, getting back on the road with confidence.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving