Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Check your Tires!

Used Tires stacked for disposalWhen you’re driving, the only thing between you and the road moving past at 60-or-so miles per hour underneath are four small patches of rubber.  That’s why your tires are so important to the performance and safety of your vehicle.  While tire technology has improved over the years, the basic design hasn’t changed too much in a long time.

There are a lot of factors that go into making sure your tires are performing at their best.  Here at Motor Works, we check and inspect your tires at each service.

Making sure your tires are inflated properly are the first step to making sure they wear evenly and properly over time.  Overinflating your tires leads to excessive wear in the center of the tread, while underinflating them will cause wear on the outside edges.

Graphic showing common patterns of tire wear

Common types of tire wear

Often, uneven wear on one edge of the tire indicates a problem with your vehicle’s steering and suspension systems.  The car may simply need an alignment.  There could also be damage to suspension components caused by hitting potholes (way too common in our area) and curbs.  You also have to make sure there isn’t any physical damage to the tires themselves.

Those same potholes and curbs can cause damage to the internal structure of the tire and can cause a bubble on the sidewall.  You should replace damaged tires immediately. If you don’t, you may have a catastrophic failure of the tire — otherwise known as a “blowout”.  That can be extremely dangerous.

These came off the rear axle of a Civic that hit something on the road hard enough to bend a rear suspension control arm. This radically changed the rear wheel alignment. As a result, the tires were ruined in a very short time because each tire was trying to go in a different direction (called toe-out). The inner part of the tread scrubbed the pavement and caused the need for tire replacement, even though these tires were only a few thousand miles old. This wear was the result of less than two weeks of driving after their “incident” that bent the control arm.

Finally, when your tire reaches the end of their service life (typically when there is less than 2mm of tread remaining), it’s time to replace them.  With less tread, your tires won’t “hold the road” as well, especially in wet or snowy conditions, which is also a safety risk.

We always recommend a computerized all-wheel alignment anytime you replace your tires.  It’s inexpensive insurance against premature wear.  If you have any questions, just call or email and we’ll be glad to help.