What You Should Know About Your Tires

The invention of the wheel was a pretty big deal – rolling stuff being a lot easier than carrying (or pushing or

Photo:  SullivanTire.com
Photo: SullivanTire.com

dragging) it.

The invention of tires was the next great leap forward. Rubber tires allowed wheels to travel more smoothly on rough/uneven surfaces and at faster-than-walking pace without shaking themselves – and the cart or carriage or (eventually) car to which they were bolted to pieces. They also much improved traction – getting you going on slick/slippery surfaces, laterally (in the corners) as well as when you want to slow down (many people do not realize that a set of good tires contributes mightily to shorter stopping distances).

Ultimately, they’re the last thing between you and the road. So it’s a good idea to know a few things about them. Such as the fact that…

* Tires age –

Many people assume that if the tread still looks good, the tires are ok. Not necessarily. A tire with 90 percent of its tread left may be close to 100 percent worn out – a failure just waiting to happen. And if it happens at the wrong moment – like when you’re doing 80 on the highway, for instance – it could have catastrophic consequences.dry rot pic

Tires, recall, are made of rubber. Well, rubber bonded with fabric and steel. Rubber loses its elasticity over time as a result of exposure to sun/ozone, which breaks down the rubber. It become less flexible; the tire may become brittle. If you look closely at the sidewall, especially near the rim, you may see small cracks that look like an old lady’s face with too much make-up. At that point the tire is potentially dangerous and ought to be replaced, regardless of the tread left.

Tire life has increased; anti-aging agents mixed with the rubber have helped stave off dry-rot such that tires now last 2-3 times as long as they did back in the ’70s. But they’re not immortal.

Entropy is a mean – and inescapable – bitch. (continue reading)

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