It’s this extra surface area touching the ground that makes all the difference. People think that the sideways growth from dropping their tire pressures makes the difference, but in reality it is the length that makes all the difference. If you calculate how much your surface area grows in length, you will be astounded. Would you also believe it if I told you tire deflation decreases the chance of a puncture in your rubber?
To prove it, take a balloon and blow it up until it is tight. Then, take it to a sharp rock and carefully push down on the balloon. You will find that it pops very quickly. Now, take an identical balloon and blow it up half way, and do the same thing with the rock. You will find (amazingly) that the balloon will not pop. By letting air out of your tires, you are allowing the tire to mould itself around the rock and thus decreasing the chance of a puncture. However, I must point out that by letting the tires down you are increasing the chance of sidewall damage if you allow tires to scrub on rocks.
Tire Pressures need to be decided on based upon the weight of your vehicle, size of the tires and most importantly the terrain that you are driving on. For most vehicles, beach driving should be done at 15 – 18 PSI. For gravel driving, around 23 – 26 PSI is usually acceptable. Rock and mud driving usually requires similar pressures to sand driving (perhaps a little bit more). I’d suggest you test the difference of having your tires at 20 PSI then letting them down to 15 PSI. Sure, its only 5 PSI difference, but it is actually letting out ¼ of the air in the tire and this is what makes all the difference.
- Firstly, make sure that you stop on the side of the road where it is safe and you have enough space to change the tyre. Always be aware of the oncoming traffic where you are changing the tyre.
- Making sure that you have all the necessary tools to do this job is an important factor. You will need a tyre iron, a jack, a spare tyre that is properly inflated and fit for the purpose, as well as the manual for the car. This manual will give you the necessary instructions on how to change the tyre if there are specific features your car may have.
- Make sure that you have the handbrake activated before you start with the wheel changing process. It is also important to place an object behind the opposite wheel in case the car starts to roll backwards.
- On most cars, there are indentations under the car that make for a stable place to place the car jack. You can see where these indentations are by means of small markings along the side of the car. The side of the car has to be at least twenty centimetres off the ground so that you can easily change the part.
- You will need to remove the hubcap so that you can reach the tyre. The hubcap has been clipped on and can be removed by wedging the flat part of the tyre iron into the crevice of the cap. The hubcap is the part of the tyre that protects the lug nuts beneath.
- Loosen the lug nuts using the correct side of the iron. Some cars have special adaptors that fit onto the nuts. You won’t need to completely remove the lug nuts as of yet. You can remove them as soon as you have taken the tyre off of the wheel. The tyre should simply click out of place and be easy to remove.
- Fit the spare tyre to the wheel piece. The bolts have to line up with the holes. Place the lug nuts onto the bolts and start tightening it equally by hand. You can then use the iron to tighten the nuts properly without having wasted too much energy. Do not over fasten as it could break.
- You can then place the hubcap back onto the face and lower the car. The spare tyre should only be used for emergency moments. You will notice that they are narrower than a regular tyre.
Now you can drive safely to a fitment centre. As soon as you get there you should get the tyre replaced.
Tires should be in good condition at all times. And as soon as they begin to show signs of wear and tear, it is time to have them replaced. In between tire replacement, your tires require regular rotations and balancing, as well as daily air pressure monitoring.
If you fail to take good care of your tires, they can begin to lose their ability to do their job, which can put your safety at risk. Tire pressure is a common problem that can influence your overall tire performance and safety. Be sure to routinely inspect your tires for proper inflation; you don’t want them to be over or under-inflated.
The Dangers of Under-Inflated Tires
Bulges can form in the tire walls, which can weaken areas of the tires, and put them at a higher risk of blowing out on the road.
Under-inflated tires will cause reduced fuel efficiency, which affects a driver’s budget and vehicle reliability.
Under-inflated tires will impede vehicular mobility, which can be dangerous in defensive driving scenario and inclement weather, and while navigating small spaces.
The Dangers of Over-Inflated Tires
Over-inflated tires can cause an increase air temperature within them, which can lead to sudden blowouts while driving. They can also lead to an imbalance of contact on the road among all four tires, which can hinder vehicular mobility and handling.
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
A tire that is 25% above the recommended air pressure is 2 times more likely to be involved in a collision.
A tire that is 25% below the recommended tire pressure is 3 times more likely to be involved in a collision.
There are virtually 11,000 tire-related motor vehicle accidents every year.
Nearly 75% of roadside flats are a result of improper tire pressure.
If you get a flat as a result of over or under-inflation, you can try to repair it yourself if you have a spare tire or an emergency roadside kit. If you are not capable of repairing or changing your flat, you can contact a local towing company for 24 hour roadside assistance service.
They can respond to your location within a short amount of time, repair your tire, or tow you to the location of your choice. Whether it is 3 o’clock in the morning or 5:30 rush hour, they have the resources to get you back on the road in no time at all.
A tire blowout is a special kind of flat tire. The side wall has ruptured, leaving a huge tear in your tire that cannot be repaired. While many believe that a blown-out tire is caused in part by over inflation, the true culprit is actually the opposite: tires that are underinflated. It’s not the rubber and steel that makes a tire able to carry the weight of a car and its passengers. It is the air. Without enough air, the components inside the tires flex and heat until it all snaps and a blowout occurs. If the car is carrying a heavy load, then the likelihood of a blowout is compounded. This is why it’s important to regularly check tire pressure. The proper pressure for a car’s tires is listed in the driver’s side door jamb.
Another common way to get a flat tire is by driving on very worn, very old tires. After a while the rubber starts to thin, and a blowout becomes more likely. To see if your tires are too worn, use the penny test. Stick the edge of a penny into your tire’s tread so that Abe Lincoln’s head is hidden by the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then your tires are too worn to drive on. However, if you cannot afford to replace the tire, then try rubbing it with vegetable oil. The oil will moisturize the rubber, allowing it to be more flexible and decrease the chances of a blowout.
When your tire blows out, what you absolutely must not do is apply the brake. Because one of your tires is now effectively useless, the brake will be applied unevenly, causing your vehicle to veer. If you’re driving a van or SUV, then it’s quite possible to flip your car by braking during a blowout.
Instead, you need to press on the accelerator after a blowout. This may seem counterintuitive, but when a tire blows out, your car’s speed may suddenly drop due to the drag caused by the flat tire. You must step on the gas for only a moment, so that any cars behind you won’t be surprised by your sudden drop in speed and ram into you.
After you have quickly pressed on the gas, you’ll notice that your car will want to veer in the direction of the blowout. Keep your car steady, let it lose speed gradually, and only when you are going slower than 30 miles per hour should you steer the vehicle to the side of the road.
Once you have successfully steered your car to the side of the road, you can start thinking about what steps you need to take next. You should always have a spare tire on hand. Now is the time to change out the flat and continue to the nearest service station. However, you need to make sure there is enough room around your car to freely work in.
Don’t try changing the tire if doing so will put you on the road, and in a dangerous situation from oncoming traffic. If you don’t have enough room to change the tire, or if you don’t have a spare, you need to call a tow truck. Depending on where you are, you may decide to have the truck drop off your car at home or at the nearest mechanic.
What kind of car do you drive? The wear and tear you put on a tire is proportionate to the weight and power of the car you drive. Some types of cars have types of tires specifically designed for them.
Where do you live? If you’re located in a more rural area and do a lot of off-road driving, you might need tires that have more traction and resilience. Similar needs can arise if you live in an area that has lots of ice on the roads – you’ll need tires designed for that environment, or that can easily handle snow chains. For that matter, plenty of tires are designed to work best on dry pavement, perfect if you’re in the city or suburbia.
How often are you willing to maintain your tires? Some types of tires might need frequent rotation or replacing – which is difficult for people who are more interested in getting in and driving away.
There are many other features to look for in tires as well. First, if you’re looking at older tires, try not to buy anything more than six years old. Second, check your owner’s manual to see what tire size is recommended for your automobile. Third, when you’re looking at the environment where you live, as mentioned above, you might want to check with a dealer to see what type of tread is typically used for that area.
It’s also a good idea to have some idea of the standards for federal tire quality grading. All new tires have a paper with their federal grading molded into their sidewall. This system is not the same as a safety rating, but it does provide a means of comparison between different brands of tires.
The three categories within this system are treadwear, traction and temperature resistance. “Treadwear” uses a 100-point scale to determine how long a tire would last while driven on the same road by the same driver for a period of time. “Traction” uses grades of “A,” “B” and “C” to determine how well the tire would be able to stop on a wet road. Finally, “Temperature Resistance” also employs an A-B-C scale to determine how well a tire might respond to overheating from being driven at a high speed.
For more information about determining which type of tire is right for you, there are special guides available regarding tire safety and maintenance. A Consumer Guide to Uniform Tire Quality Grading, is available free from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This guide lists the grades of all tires and will help you compare various brands. To obtain a copy, write to NHTSA, General Services Division (NAD-51), 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20590.