Understanding Wear and Tear of Tires

The engine might be the heart of the vehicle but the vehicle will not be able to go anywhere if the tires are in poor condition. Drivers rarely pay attention to the tires unless it’s time to buy new ones, but if they knew that properly balanced, aligned, and inflated tires with good treads can help the car come to a stop 25 percent faster, they would not neglect them.

Here are some things you can do to ensure that the tires remain in good condition.

Check Tire Pressure and Inflation

Always check the tires before you hit the road. Make sure there is nothing sharp or pointy stuck to them and that are not underinflated. Underinflated tires produce excessive heat, increase fuel consumption, and wear out faster, making the vehicle harder to handle.

Similarly, overinflated tires also wear out rapidly, make the vehicle unstable, and can burst easily. Therefore, always carry a pressure gauge and periodically check the pressure. If the pressure is low or high, bring it to the recommended level.

Understanding Treadwear

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It is important to check the treadwear at least once a month as this will help to understand whether you need to buy new tires, get the wheels balanced and aligned, and/or change your driving habits.

During your inspection, if you find that both the edges of the tires are worn out, it is highly likely that the tires were underinflated, and need to be inflated.

If the center treads are worn, the tire was overinflated and needs to be deflated. Similarly, if the wear is either to the left or the right, the wheels need to be aligned.

Other types of wear and their probable reasons and remedies are given below:

Wear Reason Remedy
Uneven wear with bald spots Wheel imbalance and/or poor alignment Wheel balancing and/or alignment
Random bald spots Wheel imbalance or worn out shocks Wheel balancing, or replace shocks
Edges of front wheels Turning at high speeds Slow down
Saw-toothed pattern Poor alignment Wheel alignment
Squealing on curves Poor alignment, poor tires, or poor shocks Wheel alignment, new tires, or new shocks

 

Rotating the Tires

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There are different points of view on tire rotation. Some say that it will produce about 20 percent more wear on the treads, but others say that it will hide the wear patterns that indicate poor alignment or poor wheel balancing. If you decide to rotate the tires of your car, first check them for signs of wear, and proceed only if the wear is uniform.

Experts recommend that tires are to be rotated after about 10,000 km or 6000 miles. The method of rotation is different for front-wheel and rear-wheel drive vehicles, as illustrated in the figure above.

There are also exceptions as vehicles with larger rear wheels or different front and rear wheels cannot be rotated, and tires with asymmetric tread designs are not rotated in the manner as illustrated above.

Note that the vehicle owner’s manual also details the correct pattern of rotation.

Wheel Balancing

Wheel balancing is paramount if you want the tires to be in good condition, as wheel balancing eliminates vibrations that the driver feels on a smooth road. If you feel vibrations in the steering wheel while driving on a smooth road, you should get the wheels balanced.

There are two types of wheel balancing: static and dynamic.

To check for the need for static balancing, prop the vehicle on a car jack and determine if a wheel rotates by itself. This happens when a part of the tire gets heavier and a technician has to balance the heavier part by adding a similar weight on the opposite side.

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Dynamic balancing is required when the wheel wobbles along the spindle. Dynamic balancing is more complex than static balancing. You can check to see if tires need dynamic balancing by propping the car up and rotating the wheel. If a wheel wobbles, it needs dynamic balancing.

Only a few maintainers in Pakistan can distinguish between static and dynamic balancing, and if you take your vehicle for balancing, the mechanics will check for both static and dynamic balancing.

Wheel balancing is a technical issue and requires in-depth technical knowledge and shouldn’t be undertaken by the vehicle owner if they lack the understanding of the process.

Wheel Alignment

If your inspection detects uneven tread wear, it could be because of poor wheel alignment. Another indicator for wheel misalignment is that the vehicle tends to pull towards either the left or the right on a straight road. Poor alignment will also affect the car’s average as the tires will push against each other and the engine will have to work harder.

Poor alignment will also cause uneven wear on the tires and you will have to replace them more often. If you notice any of these signs, take your vehicle for professional wheel alignment.

Used Tire Fraud

Not everyone can buy new tires, which is why there the option of used tires exists but beware of frauds in the market. Given below are two of the most common complaints.

  1. Retreading or Regrooving
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    A major rip-off these days in the second-hand tire market is the retreading or regrooving of old tires. Shop owners buy used scrapped tires and regroove over the old patterns with tools. This is extremely dangerous as the grooves they add often touch the steel belts. Regrooved tires can burst easily and cause fatal accidents.
  2. Tampering with the Manufacture Date
    Shop owners erase the original date of manufacture either with a sanding tool or with iron and add a bogus date of manufacture. We recommend that you closely inspect the date of manufacture and ensure that it has not been defaced.

It is advisable to scrutinize the treads and date of manufacture for alterations. If you do not have a keen eye for detail, take an expert with you. Also, avoid tires that are more than six years old as there is a high chance that they have been tampered with.

You should not ignore the condition of your car’s tires and should perform regular checks and maintenance, as inspecting and caring for them will improve the handling and steering of the vehicle. It will also keep you safe as the tires will have a minimum chance of bursting on the road and the car’s fuel average will be optimal.



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