Know Your Tires!

January 25th, 2013 by

TiresThere are many drivers out there that don’t give much thought to the workings of their vehicle; I should know, I used to be one of them. But if you’re here reading our blog, you’re probably at least a little interested in what makes your car run and how it does so efficiently, so you’ll have a hard time arguing with me when I tell you that your tires are a necessity.

Okay, most people probably wouldn’t argue against that, but the point is still valid.

In the earliest days of automobiles, tires tended to be of two types. Either they were eerily like wagon wheels coated in rubber or they were like heavy-duty bicycle tires. Both of these ancestors are pretty far removed from the modern vehicle’s tire, however.

These days, tires are layered with rubber and special sidewall reinforcements and high-strength steel to both increase longevity and simply to help the tire keep its shape better.

The typical tire is constructed from the familiar rubber tread and sidewall, while the interior is made of steel belts, cap and body plies, an inner liner, an edge cover, and a bead bundle to hold it all together. The goal of each of those components is simply to let the tire do a better job at staying inflated, keeping traction, and letting your car get you from point A to point B.

After a tire is assembled, however, it isn’t ready to go on a car yet. These so-called “green” tires are run through a curing machine to bond all the materials together and give it a solid feel. You might be familiar with this process already, or at least its name: vulcanizing.

Now, those numbers along the side of your tire can easily look like a bunch of gibberish if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Contained in that code are important facts like the tire’s type, width, tread depth, construction, and more. If you don’t know how to read it, though, getting replacement tires that match the same numbers and letters is a pretty safe bet.

Remember, while tires are built to give you a good grip on the road, many things can affect the effectiveness of their hold, so drive more carefully in wet or icy conditions or if your tire treads are wearing thing, as all of these conditions decrease a tire’s effectiveness.