Ask a vehicle technician who has been in the industry for a while and you’ll probably hear a hair raising horror story about the dangers of bad tires and what they’ve seen. They’re also likely to have some interesting tales about the reactions they’ve gotten when they’ve pointed the bad tires out to some vehicle owners. None of us really enjoy paying to maintain our vehicles, but tires are incredibly important and need to be in good condition. Why are they so important? Here are some of the dangers of bad tires.
The Dangers of Bad Tires
One of the worst things that can happen as a result of bad or overworn tires is a blowout, especially at high speed. A blowout means that your tire loses pressure (and sometimes shreds) and causes the car to lose control. A high speed blowout not only puts the life of your vehicle’s occupants at risk, it can also cause a multiple vehicle pileup. It’s not just worn tires that can cause blowouts though, as cheap, poor quality tires and tires with the wrong rating for your vehicle can also be responsible.
The grooves on your tires aren’t there to look good. Modern tires with deep tread patterns efficiently channel water away from the tire on wet surfaces. As tires wear down over time and with use, these grooves inevitably become shallower, which reduces their water displacement capability and can then result in hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is where the tires are no longer delivering the necessary grip to the road surface and the vehicle is then liable to spin out of control. If you live in a location where quick thundershowers drop large amounts of rain in a short period of time or where rain is a consistent part of your weather forecast, you should be especially careful to keep an eye on your tire treads.
The grooves in tread patterns don’t just channel water away when the road is wet. They also work to cool the tire. Driving, especially on a hot, dry surface, creates friction and friction means heat. Modern tire tread designs work to minimize temperatures by cooling the tires through air flow between the grooves. When the grooves are worn down, the tires can overheat due to reduced air flow and this inevitably makes them more susceptible to failure. Hot rubber will crack-and you don’t want that to happen to your vehicle.
Tires that are excessively worn are also liable to leak air, reducing the tire pressure. Underinflated tires don’t grip the road surface properly, which leads to a negative impact on your ability to steer and brake. Underinflated tires also make your vehicle less fuel efficient, and the tread will also wear out even quicker which all leads to additional unnecessary expense.
Reduced performance on snow and ice
Even if you don’t put on special winter tires, if you live in an area where snow and ice can be an issue during certain times of the year, your all weather tires will still have what are called “sipes” on them. Sipes are small, thin grooves or channels cut into the surface of the tire for improved traction when driving on snow and ice. When the tread makes contact with the road surface, these sipes expand to create a low air pressure inside the cuts for a more reliable contact between the tire and the pavement. As your tires wear so do the sipes, and that means an increasingly greater risk of losing control in snowy or icy conditions.
We wear shoes and boots on our feet for a reason, so think of your tires as your vehicle’s boots or shoes. Just like your feet are not well-protected on uneven, challenging trails without good shoes, your vehicle isn’t safe if its tires are badly worn. Bad tires can lead to unnecessary expense, impaired handling, and, worst of all, accidents. Your local dealership can help by keeping an eye on your tires during your regular maintenance visits, helping you avoid a problem you may not have even known you had.