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Engine & Transmission Tips • Issue 25

KNOW WHEN YOUR TIRES

ARE TIRED

Watch for these signs your tires are nearing their end of life

 There isn’t a lot of mystery to checking your tires. It’s something you should do every time you wash your car. If you see any of the issues described later in this article, it’s time to replace one or all of your tires.

Don’t get in the situation where you’re on a car trip, buzzing along at 65 MPH, with spouse napping next to you and the kids playing video games in the back seat when you experience a tire blow-out. Besides being potentially fatal, the experience alone can cause life-long trauma.

Couple that with the fact that your tires were old, or worn, or both. It’s a tough issue to live with when you knew you could replace the tires anytime you wanted.

That being said, here are the tell-tale signs it’s time to replace your tires.

 Degrading performance – If you’ve notices that your car loses grip on even damp roads, or actually hydroplanes, or the tires squeal when you travel around the loop of an on-ramp, these are signs that the general health of your tires is degrading, or near failure.

The ride becomes rough – As an experienced driver knows to listen for changes in the sound of your car while driving, it’s also important to feel any changes as well. Tires can develop defects ranging from abnormal wear patterns from bad wheel alignment to failing sidewalls with actual bulges. The steering wheel can also vibrate. Even a slight change in the sensations you are used to when driving can be telegraphed from the tires to your hands on the wheel.

Excessive Tread Wear – Aside from driving on the same set of tires for a decade, if you see a bald spot forming along the edge of your tire, it is most likely caused by wheels that are out of alignment. That kind of wear is dangerous, and while you can get your wheel alignment fixed, you can’t add rubber to the sidewall of your tire, and that’s what supports your whole car while you’re driving. So, be safe, and get those tires replaced.

 Exposure To Extreme Elements – If you live in extreme climates, like the Northern states where you get lots of snow, which comes with lots of salt, your tires will break down faster. The same goes for extremely hot climates like the southern Midwest. Moisturizing tire dressings, especially ones with UV protection will extend the life of your tires, but only to a certain degree.

 Obvious Visual Damage – If you’ve ever opened your car door and noticed a nail or screw in your tire, you know what obvious visual damage is. Punctures can be easily and permanently fixed, but other damage can include gashes or severe scraping along one side of your tire, often to the extent of seeing the underlying fiberglass strands. Again, at that point, its time to replace that tire.

Plain Old Tire Age – Rubber is a natural material, and will break down over time. Even if you keep your car in a garage and only drive it to church on Sundays, the tires will eventually start to decay. An example is the curse of storing your car in a garage for an extended period of time, like storing a convertible over the Winter. You come back three months later only to find the perfectly fine tires have flat spots where the car sat in the same spot. These flat spots often work themselves out after a bit of driving, but for cheaper tires, this can be disastrous. Older tires suffer from this and other issues, like developing fine cracks in the rubber is it shrinks around the embedded fiberglass threads.

Just know that SIX (6) years is the magic age at which to replace your tires, even if they look fine. Fraser Fast-Tip: You can tell how old your tire is by looking for the Department of Transportation code, which starts with DOT and ends with a four-digit code that is the week and year your tire was manufactured. 5218 would be the 52nd week of the year 2018.

 FRASER FAST FACT:

According to Consumer Reports, it really is best to stick with the type of tires that came on your car. You can opt for different brands or configurations, but the tire size should be a constant, and we highly recommend always choosing a tire rated A for Treadwear, A for Traction, and at least B for Temperature.

The side of your tire contains a wealth of information including the items above as well as when it was made, and it’s quality. Here’s the legend:

  • P – The first letters indicates whether the tire is for a passenger car, a light truck (LT), or a special trailer (ST).
  • 185 – The first number, in millimeters, indicates the width of the tire from the outside to the inside.
  • 75 – The second number indicates the aspect ratio, or the height of the sidewall versus the width of the tire. This is often referred to as the tire’s profile. In the accompanying image, the number 75 signifies the sidewall is 75% of the width of the tire, 185mm in this example. Sports cars have lower-profile tires, ie. 215/50, where minivans often have higher-profile tires, 185/95, for a smoother ride.
  • R14 – The R portion indicates the tire is of “radial” construction. The number indicated the tire’s rim diameter size in inches. A tire with a R16 should be mounted on a 16” diameter rim.
  • 82 S – The number indicates the load rating for the tire, and ranges from 0 to 150. These number correspond to a safe weight load at maximum tire inflation. The example 85 shows the tire can support 1,135 lbs. on it’s own.
  • The letter indicates the speed rating of the tire, and corresponds directly with all of the tire’s specifications from size to traction and temperature rating. The letters range all the way from A to Y, with the most common being “S”, “T”, and “H”, which are rated for 112, 118, and 130 mph respectively. “Y” is rated for 300 mph.
  • Treadwear – This number is relational, based on an average tire wearing down at 100. In this example 360 indicates the tire would last 3.6 x longer than the average from the same brand.
  •  Traction – This rating is based solely on wet-road condition testing. The letter is a grade from AA, being the best, A, B, and C, being the lowest.
  • Temperature – the temperature resistance of a tire, relates to it’s ability to dissipate heat build-up. Grades are typically A, B and C, where A is the best. An “A” grade tire can run at speeds over 115mph.
  • Load and Pressure – This information must be displayed on every tire sold in the United States. It indicates, in our example, that the maximum load for this tire alone is 4,410 lbs., and the maximum tire pressure is 110 psi.
  • DOT – This is the Department of Transportation number, which will tell you the manufacturer and plant of the tire, as well as the date of production. The last 4 digits indicate the week and year of manufacture. In this example, the tire was produced during the 8th week of 2015. This number is actually critical, and should be checked when you buy a used car, as some dealers can have tires sit in the warehouses for years.

On a final note, changing your tires is not a do-it-yourself task. Even if you’ve worked in an automotive garage, you know there are tools and machines designed specifically to mount and balance tires with accuracy that will provide ultimate comfort and confidence.

FRASER FOLLOW-UP

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