Tires are 1 of the most important, and often overlooked, pieces of equipment on your vehicle. They are your vehicle's only contact with the road, and if they're worn or improperly inflated you could easily lose that contact.
Properly inflated tires will provide you with optimum acceleration, braking and steering control.
- The correct amount of inflation depends on your vehicle and the tires you use. Your owner's manual and the Tire Inflation Pressure Label located on the door pillar, glove compartment or fuel tank door will indicate the proper pressure. If your tires have been replaced with tires different than those recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, consult the tire or vehicle manufacturer.
- Just don't forget that tires lose pressure at the rate of 1 lb/inch2 for every 5° C drop in temperature.
- It's a good idea to check your tire pressure at least twice a month or before long trips. The best time to check is when your tires are cool, not hot from the friction of the road.
- Under-inflated tires wear on their edges while those that are over-inflated wear more quickly in the centre. Traction and gas mileage will be negatively affected in both cases.
Even with proper inflation, your tires will eventually begin to deteriorate. Check their tread wear indicators regularly - if they're exposed, it's time to replace the tire.
Driving on damaged tires
One of the consequences of driving on damaged tires is a blowout.
- Front-tire blowouts are especially dangerous because they pull your vehicle in the direction of the flat tire.
- Rear-blowouts cause your vehicle to fishtail.
- In either case, remain calm and take your foot off the accelerator. Once you have regained control of your vehicle, gradually brake and pull over to the side of the road.
It's important to pay particular attention to your tires in the wintertime, when snow and ice wreak havoc on driving conditions. Using winter tires is the best way to maintain traction and control on the road.
- Winter tires are more flexible in cold temperatures than their all-season counterparts. Their deeper tread is also better at clearing away snow as the tire rotates.
- Studded tires are a good choice on wet ice when the temperature is near zero but they don't outperform other winter tires in freezing conditions.
- No matter what the season, be sure that you use tires of the same construction and size. No mixing and matching. Properly inflated tires of the same type are the best way to ensure that you and you vehicle stay safely on the road.