We obviously spend a lot of time thinking about whether our tires will keep us safe in the winter, but in the summer we need to be just as cautious.
Here are several points to bear in mind through the summer and fall driving season:
1. Tire Age.
As we change from winter to summer tires, like me, you may keep a spare set of rims and change them yourself. However, do you remember how old the tires are? The date of batch manufacture is on the side wall of the tire. It is easy however to forget as we rotate tires to check the age. I learned the hard way several years ago when I put a set of summer tires on a BMW. I had purchased factory rims with tires through a local advert. When I put the tires on I not checked the date. Driving off the Lion’s Gate bridge in Vancouver to head to Whistler, I hit a damp part of the road in summer and quickly the back attempted to overtake the front of the car! For a rally river, that is actually quite normal so no harm done, but for many drivers that will result in a bad accident. If you are not sure of the age of your tire, drop in to your local BigO tire store and ask for them to be checked.
It goes without saying that tread depth is important and in fact a legal consideration when driving on the road. The two specific issues in my mind are firstly in relation to water. Any standing water with minimal tread depth is going to lead to advanced aquaplaning. This is a point where your tires have lifted away from the surface of the road and you are surfing. That in turn means you cannot steer the car or brake. Obviously a very serious consideration.<
Secondly when tread depth is low, the steel banding in the tires is closer to the surface of the tire where heat is generated. Because of the ability for metal to transmit and retain heat, this has massive implications for the safety of the structure of your tire. In effect, stored heat in the metal banding will lead to delimitation of the outer layer of the tire. That causes a blister which you will feel while driving or ultimately a complete loss of the outer layer of the tire, exposing fabric and metal and eventually a blow out at potentially high speed. Again, once you believe your tread is low, head over to your local Big O Tire store to get some professional input.
3. Tire Pressure
Driving with inadequate pressures has two negative outcomes. Tires are designed to be driven at the stated pressures on the tire wall. Under-inflation leads to two detrimental conditions. Firstly your fuel economy will be impacted negatively. An under inflated tire will increase the rolling resistance which in turn will require more fuel to push the tire across the surface of the road. In other words, this condition definitely hits your wallet where it hurts. Secondly, handling is negatively impacted. On a slalom course, the difference in running correctly inflated tires and low pressured tires is radical. The car feels “sloppy”, the directional stability is diminished and you are putting more heat in to the tire, once again running the risk of delamination. Checking tire pressures routinely will ensure you can avoid accidents and save money – what have you got to lose?
Drive carefully thought the summer and take a little tie to check out the most important part of the vehicle – the tires, before you depart on your next journey.