Often when we’re driving, we think that the breaks in our cars are the most important thing keeping us safe. But the reality is – breaks stop your tires, and your tires stop the car. Your first line of defense, even on dry roads is a good set of tires. Often we find ourselves pushing our cars and tires to the limits depending on our budget. They’re not a cheap investment, but they are necessary for your vehicle to stop safely – and trust me this is what we want!
Earlier this year I was invited to Tire School with Michelin. Not only did this teach me more than I ever expected to know about tires, but gave me a greater confidence on the road with the tires I already have. As the winter months approach and the need for newer tires becomes apparent once again, I figured it was time to share some of this knowledge with you so you are safe on these winter roads and throughout the rest of the year.
Your Tire Will Tell You How Old it Is
If you look at the side of your tires on the outside there is information everywhere. From a code that can be used to track your tire back to the plant it was made at to an actual birthday (of sorts). There is a four-digit code on the side of your tire. The first two digits of the code tell you what week of the year the tire was made and the last two the year. The tires in the picture were made in the 39th week of 2017 – so late September.
Keep Your Tires Under the Right Amount of Pressure So They Perform Properly
Every tire has an ideal pressure number that makes it a safer drive for you and your family. But not every car has tire pressure monitoring built in. If you drive an older car there is an easy way to check out the ideal tire pressure for your car – just open your driver’s door! Inside the side of your driver’s door is a sticker that actually lists the pressure your tires should have.
Once you know that ideal tire pressure you need to check your tires every month. Why? Because the temperature changes outside make the pressure fluctuate. And if you have a rental car, always check those tires before you hit the road. They will most likely all be at different pressures and none close to what number they should be.
Why is the pressure so important? Tires under the right amount of pressure provide more grip or traction on the road. At any point while you’re driving your tire is only touching the road in a patch about the size of your palm or cell phone. You want to make sure your car is getting the support it needs from the tires.
Designs Matter – For Every Part of Your Tire!
Have you ever wondered why every tire has a different design? From design to market a tire actually takes several years and the tread pattern has a purpose. The smaller slashes are called sipes and squeegee water safely from the tire and groves help to channel water away as well as adapt to with different terrain. While some tire patterns look fancy, know that every pattern on your tire is there for a reason and the main one is to keep you safe while driving.
We’ve all been there – we need new tires but can’t afford– or don’t need– a whole set. So where do you put the new tires?
For years we’ve been told we should put them on the front, especially if you have a front wheel drive car. But Michelin has found through research and several times around their test tracks that new tires on the back of the car give you better control of the vehicle even if you have a front wheel drive car.
Obviously, if you can get all four at once, do that. Newer tires should always be put on the back of the vehicle if you are only replacing two, and the two from the back should go on the front.
Don’t forget to rotate your tires ever 3000-5000 miles, or when you get your oil changed, to get the proper wear on all of your tires.
Don’t Replace Those Tires too Early!
We all buy tires with a mile amount attached to them. Those 60,000 mile tires – we often replace them too late or too early. Are your tires bald? Have a bulge or slow leak? Then it’s definitely time to replace them.
One thing Michelin pointed out in Tire School – don’t replace them too early. You paid for those miles on those tires and they want you to get them, but safely. If you notice you aren’t able to stop safely or notice you’re hydroplaning – it’s time to look at replacing your tires.
As part of tire school we spent only a portion of our time in the classroom, the rest was spent on the track. One thing Michelin encouraged us to do was to spin out their cars on purpose. We tested out cars with new tires on the front, new tires on the back, competitors tires and even some that they purposely wore down over time. This gave us a better understanding of what the tires would do on wet and dry surfaces. Not only did it give us a better respect for the brand and our own tires, but an understanding of what a difference this one part of car can make.
Watch as we actually spin out on purpose!