Tire Myths, Tire Realities

Posted on: May 27, 2016

It’s easy to think about the design, performance, price point, and interior of a car well before considering one of its most important components—the tires. If a car is new, it might be assumed that the tires are great, and if a car is used and runs well, it might also be assumed that the tires work well. However, the importance of tires shouldn’t be ignored. Each time you use a car, your well-being rides on the performance of the four tires that allow the car to run efficiently.

We’d like to dismantle more than a few myths that exist out there about tires. We hope that it brings clarity to the misinformation that exists, and allows you to make well-informed decisions when taking care of the tires you currently own, or making the decision to invest in new ones.

MYTH 1

New tires should be placed in the front of a vehicle.

REALITY

Logic might proceed as follows: “I’ll place the tires in the front of the car because it will provide more traction, and, by the time the back tires have worn out completely, the front tires will have worn out, too. And then they can all be replaced.” While this logic might make sense, it can actually be dangerous. It’s much safer to place the newer tires in the back, because it’s safer in the event a vehicle hydroplanes. With newer tires in the back, a car will understeer (continue to drive straight ahead) if it hydroplanes. It can be controlled by releasing the gas pedal and slowing the car to a halt. However, if newer tires are in the front, a vehicle that hydroplanes will oversteer, causing the vehicle to spin. At this point, releasing the gas pedal could make it more difficult for the driver to get control of the car again, and it could spin out of control. The moral of the story is, if you can only get two out of four new tires, place them in the back of the vehicle—it’s safer.

MYTH 2

If a tire exceeds the maximum pressure noted on the sidewall, it will burst..

REALITY

It won’t burst. Tire blowouts are generally caused by low tire pressure and heat, but maximum pressure most likely won’t be the cause. We do suggest, however, that you maintain the recommended tire pressure and don’t exceed it, because we want your car to perform at its optimum level. Too little pressure, and tires heat up, increasing the risk of a blowout. Too much pressure, and a car runs the risk of being easily damaged by a pothole, for example. Proper inflation allows a car to carry its load. Check the air pressure of your vehicle once a month with a tire gauge.

MYTH 3

A spare tire can be used for the same amount of time as a regular tire.burst..

REALITY

Spare tires are designed to be used for a short period of time, for up to an hour to an hour and a half, or between 50 and 70 miles, depending on the tire. This should provide you with ample time to find a nearby service center to get your car repaired or the tire replaced. Spare tires are generally smaller and have less traction than regular tires. They’re also composed of less durable material, making them more prone to punctures. Spare tires should be used only when no other option exists, and for up to the time period noted in the manual.

MYTH 4

All-season tires can be used instead of snow tires

REALITY

It depends. All-season tires are good to use year-round and are manufactured to perform in a variety of weather conditions. Winter tires are specifically suggested, however, if you live in an area that experiences winter weather that is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter tires are manufactured specifically to perform during the winter through slush, ice, and snow. All-season tires would work well with cars in the Southern United States, for example, due to the moderate winter climate.

MYTH 5

Tires are what cause bumpy, uneven car

REALITY

Not necessarily. While flatspotting might be the cause (when a tire becomes compressed and is stiffer than the rest of the tire), flatspotting occurs only after a car has been stationary or parked for a long period of time; say, 30 days or more. A car disturbance is more likely to be caused by an issue with the brakes, driveshaft, ball joints, CV joints, or tie rods.

MYTH 6

Tires are covered in a vehicle’s warranty

REALITY

This can be a confusing subject, simply because warranties exist for cars, tire manufacturers, and tire dealers. Usually, a vehicle’s warranty doesn’t include tires. Warranties of tire manufacturers don’t cover damages related to use of tires (e.g., cuts or nail holes). Use-related wear and tear might be covered through some tire retailers through road hazard warranties, which are usually provided by tire dealers rather than tire manufacturers.

MYTH 7

My tires will work well as long as they have tread, no matter how old they are

REALITY

You shouldn’t have an old set of tires past 10 years. After five, they should be checked once per year by a professional. Tires are made to last between 50,000 and 60,000 miles, but, if tires begin to look damaged from weather or old age, they should be checked and ultimately replaced if necessary. Action Gator Tire has many professionals who can check your tires for proper maintenance, and wear and tear. provided by tire dealers rather than tire manufacturers.

MYTH 8

Only tires more than five years old blow out.

REALITY

Age has little to do with tire blowout. Tires can blow out from under-inflation, carrying too heavy of a load, and potholes. Low air pressure allows tires to absorb heat more readily, thereby increasing its chance of a blowout. If a car or truck is carrying too heavy a load—one that is significantly higher than the tires’ max loads—it can blow out. A pothole can immediately rupture the rubber of a tire, causing it to blow out, or damage it enough to cause it to blow out over time.

MYTH 9

Tread patterns give cars good traction.

REALITY

Tread patterns give cars good traction in wet weather conditions. In dry weather, tread instead decreases traction. A tire without tread has the most traction in dry weather because the most amount of rubber is touching the road. In wet weather conditions, tread suctions the water, channeling it through the tire grooves for better traction. Action Gator provides many different tires with various tread patterns. We will work with you to find which one works best with your particular vehicle.

MYTH 10

Get better traction in the snow with wide

REALITY

Narrow tires actually work better. They cut the snow like the blade of a knife, pushing through the snow with its narrow edge. It allows the tire to dig through the snow more easily than wide tires do.

MYTH 11

Rotate tires only from front to back, and not side to side

REALITY

Different tires call for different rotational patterns. So, if the tires are directional, meaning they rotate in the same direction, they should be rotated front to back. If the tires are non-directional, side to side rotation works well. Check out this page to learn more about the many different ways tires can be rotated. It includes more than just the two listed here.

MYTH 12

Tires in the drive-wheel position get the most traction

REALITY

Tires in this position will get the most traction only on rear-drive vehicles. New tires, as noted previously, should be placed in the back to protect from oversteering if a vehicle hydroplanes.

MYTH 13

During a car search, kick the tires

REALITY

Kicking tires doesn’t give you an accurate rendering of tire pressure or anything else you might be looking for by this method. Instead, it will let you know if your shoes have the right amount of padding to withstand kicking an immobile and hard object. Action Gator provides an online catalog of tires based on the type of car you have. See which tires go best with your car here.

MYTH 14

Check tire adhesion by using your fingernail to test the tread and see how soft it is.

REALITY

Please don’t do this. Tire adhesion depends on the tread pattern, shape of the tire, and shape of the tire footprint. Your fingernail, just like your foot, is not the best gauge for tire adhesion. Check with a tire dealership such as Action Gator to learn more about tire adhesion.

MYTH 15

The U.S. government is responsible for testing treadwear grades, temperature resistance, and traction of tires

REALITY

Treadwear grades, temperature resistance, and traction are tested by tire manufacturers themselves. The federal law requiring tire manufacturers to test their tires is called Uniform Tire Quality Grading. Manufacturers both test and give grades. Currently, no formula exists to make the grading less objective—there isn’t a universal grading standard yet.

MYTH 16

A budget brand is just as good as a name brand if they’re from the same company

REALITY

While it’s true that many name brand companies create more affordable budget brands, the saying “You get what you pay for” still rings true, especially for car tires. Each tire company has a top brand that gets most of the attention for research and development. However, as tires become less expensive, the brands will focus only on the minimum legal requirements for putting their budget brand out on the market. Of course, if the name of a top-notch tire company is attached to a budget brand, they will still most likely be of good quality (since they will still be held accountable for a tire’s failure). However, you can ensure that you’ll be getting a high quality product from a high-quality brand that will be more expensive than the budget brand. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Save money and get a product that will most likely perform well, but could develop a problem. Or invest in a product that you know is tested for durability and quality.

MYTH 17

The tire inflation system will tell a driver when tires are deflated

REALITY

The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) will send a warning only when tire pressure is well below the number suggested for driving, when the pressure is 25% less than the recommendation. This is dangerous not only because a car should not even be in motion by the time a warning is sent, but a vehicle also can barely carry its max load with an air pressure well below the recommendation. The TPMS warning is more of a warning at the last minute. As suggested previously, buy a tire gauge, and checkyour tire pressure once a month. We do understand that life gets busy, so it might help to plan ahead and place a date and time on your calendar to check your pressure.

MYTH 18

Tires with the same designation are the same size

REALITY

Two tires might both read 225/35, suggesting that each sidewall is 35% of the tires’ widths. However, the designation can sometimes be more of an estimate, because the amount of rubber might be adjusted slightly to account for the margin. Therefore, to know for sure, it should be measured. The designation is relatively accurate, but should be measured to the centimeter to know the exact measurement for each tire.

MYTH 19

Tires don’t have to be aligned

REALITY

TYes they do, at least once a year. Getting tires aligned helps the tires to last for their maximum life, improves the handling of the vehicle, and helps with driving safety overall. Tires can get out of alignment in a number of ways, from hitting a pothole to bumping into a curb while pulling out of a parking space. If a car isn’t aligned properly, it can be difficult to drive. Tires also wear down more quickly. In short, tire alignment keeps a car running smoothly and keeps a driver from spending extraneous amounts of money for repair and new tires.

MYTH 20

The speed of a car doesn’t affect tires

REALITY

The rate of speed does affect tires, particularly the load they can safely carry. A car traveling at a higher speed has a lower load tolerance than a car traveling at a low speed. A set of tires that can carry a certain load at below 65mph might need a decrease in load and an increase in tire pressure to continue working properly.

MYTH 21

It’s okay to lose the tire valve cap

REALITY

Missing valve caps not only allow dust, water, and other substances to seep into the tire, thereby reducing tire pressure, but a missing cap can also allow brine to enter into a tire and cause the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to break. A missing valve cap can result in an entire pressure monitoring system needing to be replaced, which runs on average about $80.00.

Tires can be an often misunderstood part of cars because they are very complex. They are an integral component of car maintenance, and, with them working properly, they make sure that a car runs efficiently. So, feel free to print out this information—or misinformation, depending on how you look at it—and use it to make sure your tires are performing in tip-top shape. The efficiency of your car is counting on it.