Tire Safety Myths
A lot of misinformation, outdated thinking, and wives’ tales surround car tire safety. You may believe false information without even realizing it, and these tire safety myths could put you and your family in danger when your tires don’t perform as you expect them to. Here are the tire facts you need to know to keep you and your family safe.
Common Tire Safety Myths
Myth: When Replacing Only 2 Tires, They Should Go on the Front
Truth: Even if you have front-wheel drive, it’s actually 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.
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 than oversteer. All you have to do is take your foot off the gas to slow your vehicle and let your front tires regain traction.
On the other hand, oversteer is more difficult to control, which is why you should put new tires on the back axle for more reliable hydroplane resistance.
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.
Myth: With TPMS, I Only Need to Check Tire Pressure When the Light Comes on
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 air pressure at least once a month. Ideally, you never want to see your TPMS light come on because you fill your tires before they get low enough to trigger it.
Myth: Low-Profile Tires With Large Diameter Wheels Improve Handling
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.
Myth: The Tire Sidewall Provides the Recommended PSI
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. We can help you determine that with a load/inflation table.
Myth: You Can Tell if a Tire Is Low By Looking at or Kicking it
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 around on underinflated tires, which puts unnecessary strain on them.
Myth: All Tires With the Same Size Designation Have the Same Dimensions
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 AWD or 4WD vehicle.
Myth: All Tires With Enough Tread Are Safe to Use
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.
You should replace your tires every 6 years, even if they still have tread. Tires become unserviceable after 10 years.
Myth: You Can Safely Repair Tires With Injected Sealant or a Plug
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 fill the hole with solid rubber filler and vulcanize a patch to the inner liner as soon as you can after experiencing a flat. 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.
Myth: All-Season Tires Have Better Grip on Wet Roads Than Summer Tires
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 OK in the snow and give up some snow traction to provide wet-weather grip. In the end, all-season tires don’t excel in any season.
With their wide tread voids to evacuate water from the contact patch rapidly and more pliable rubber compound for better grip, summer tires are the best option for warm weather.
Keep in mind, however, that summer tires are not designed for winter conditions, so if you plan to drive outside the sunny state of Florida during the winter, you should switch to snow tires or all-season tires for proper cold weather traction.
Get New Tires or Tire Repairs in Central Florida
Do you need a flat properly repaired? Maybe it’s time for new tires. Either way, Action Gator Tire can help. With 25 locations around Central Florida, we’re certain to have a shop nearby to set you up with the wheels, tires, or tire service you need.
Find your nearest Action Gator Tire location to schedule an appointment today.