The Point Of No Return. Why Car Tyres Fail
Car tyres can fail for a variety of reasons. Some are more common than others but all are avoidable with a little foresight. So, let’s look at some problems that can cause tyre failure, and learn how to avoid them.
Running your car tyres at too low a pressure has an immediate penalty. Underinflated tyres have higher rolling resistance than tyres running at the correct pressure. This means you waste fuel on pushing the tyres along the road. A less immediate but more punishing penalty comes from the same lack of pounds per square inch of air pressure inside the car tyre. Put simply, underinflated tyres can overheat. If the tyres overheat enough, it’s bye-bye tread or tyre carcass – i.e. it’s blowout time.
Inflating your car tyres correctly, to the pressure the car and/or tyre manufacturer recommends, is simple enough, and far less costly than new tyres or a spectacular blowout.
Given the above, it may seem logical to run your car tyres at a pressure higher than the one recommended. Wrong! Tyres running at too high a pressure lose compliance. Meaning? They can’t cope well with road irregularities and will be more easily damaged. Such damage can occur deep within the tyre carcass and lead to a dramatic high-speed failure. Once again, the solution is to keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure.
If you’ve saved a few pounds by buying car tyres that are under specified for your car’s capabilities, there’s no profit in preening yourself about it. Car tyres have a speed rating, denoted by a letter on the sidewall, for a reason. More highly-rated tyres have superior internal structures and can lose heat more efficiently than lesser items.
While your insurance company will take a very dim view of your running on inappropriate tyres, worse things can happen. Under specified tyres can fail, especially in hot conditions.
A good tyre bay will advise you on which speed rating is right for your car. Take the advice: always buy the right tyres.
Car tyres carry a load rating as well as a speed rating and this too is with good reason. While overloading may not often affect passenger cars (except perhaps those used for towing), bigger vehicles can be seen wearing underrated tyres. This goes for 4x4s as well as pick up trucks and small to medium-sized vans.
Once again, a tyre bay is the source of knowledge – if in doubt, have your current tyres checked.
Which road hazards? Good question, given the road offers plenty of hazards. Those particularly affecting car tyre integrity are pot holes, debris and kerbs. Hit any of these with any severity and you may damage a wheel, as well as a tyre. However, impact damage, even at parking speeds, can wreak unseen havoc within a car tyre.
When checking your car tyre pressures, look out for cuts, lumps and bulges – all can be harbingers of structural disaster in a tyre.
In these financially demanding times, it’s understandable for drivers to try wringing the maximum life out of their car tyres. That said, taking a car tyre down to, or even past, the tread wear indicators moulded into its treads is false economy, not to mention dangerous.
This is another thing to check when you get down and personal with your car tyres. Remember that well worn tyres can lack structural strength as well as grip.