Truck Tires That Are Mean Enough To Turn Heads

What safety demands are placed on a tire?

Your tires are the only part of the car that has direct contact with the road. Tires affect your vehicle handling, ride, braking, and safety. For optimum performance, tires must have the correct air pressure, tread depth, balance and the wheels of the vehicle must be properly aligned.

Checking your tires on a regular basis is an important step in protecting your safety and your automotive investment. Ideally, tire inspections should be performed monthly. If you drive over potholes and debris in the road, live in a cold climate, or drive long distances regularly, then you should inspect your tires more often.

Always inspect your tires before a long trip. The more often these inspections are performed, the easier it will be to find a small problem, such as a nail in your tire, and fix it before it becomes a more expensive and time-consuming issue.

Why is tire safety so important?

Your safety, along with the safety of your passengers and other road users, could depend directly on the condition of your vehicle’s tires.

Tire’s must:

  • be the right kind and size for your vehicle
  • be properly inflated
  • be free from defects and
  • have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm

There are three distinct categories of tires:

1. Winter tires have tread patterns that are specially designed to bite into snow and ice. They’re made from softer rubber than normal tires and they stay more flexible in cold weather. This means the tire can grip the road better in snow or icy conditions. Winter tires are labelled ‘MS’ or ‘M&S’ (Mud and Snow) with the alpine symbol as shown in Figure 1.

2. Summer tires are most commonly used in Ireland. This does not mean that they are for use during the summer only—it’s merely the term used to separate them from winter tires in countries where there is a practical need and sometimes a legal requirement to fit winter tires.

3. All-season tires are a cross between summer and winter tires and are designed to cope with all sorts of conditions, including dry roads and rain. They are not specially designed for any one kind of weather condition. All-season tires carry the marking MS or M&S (Mud and Snow) but without the alpine symbol.  

Why is tire safety so important?

Your safety, along with the safety of your passengers and other road users, could depend directly on the condition of your vehicle’s tires.

Tire’s must:

  • be the right kind and size for your vehicle
  • be properly inflated
  • be free from defects and
  • have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm

Tire Problems to Look For During a Visual Inspection

  • Over inflation: Too much air pressure causes mostly the tire’s middle section to contact the road. This creates wear primarily in the center of the tread, with less wear at the tire’s edges.
  • Under inflation: Too little air pressure causes mostly the tire’s outer edges to contact the road. This creates wear primarily on both edges of the tire tread, with less wear in the center.
  • Tread wear on one edge of the tire: This typically occurs when the wheels are out of alignment.
  • Erratic tread wear: This is often called cupping, and may mean the wheel is out of balance, or that the shock absorbers or other suspension components need to be replaced.
  • Raised portion of the tread or sidewall: May indicate that one of the belts in the tire carcass has separated from those next to it.

Tire Problems to Look for While Driving

  • Unusual vibration or thumping noise: Vibration or thumping noises can indicate an out-of-balance tire, one with tread that has a flat spot due to locking the wheels in a panic stop, or a tire with a separated belt.
  • A pull to one side: While driving at a steady speed, pulling to one side may indicate an underinflated or damaged tire on the side of the car to which the vehicle pulls. If this is not the case, a brake problem or poor wheel alignment may be causing the pull.

When Should Your Tires Retire?

No matter how new your tire is, Bridgestone recommends checking inflation pressure every month and scheduling regular inspections with a pro. After five years, an inspection is essential to determine if a tire is still road-worthy.

We recommend tires that were manufactured 10 years prior (or longer) be taken out of service and replaced with new tires. Same goes for the spare. If it’s 10 years old, it needs to be replaced, even if it appears new.

It’s important to note that the age of a tire is not the only indicator of whether it needs to be replaced. Many tires will need to be replaced before 10 years of age due to routine tread wear and other conditions such as punctures, impact damage, improper inflation, overloading and more. If a tire is worn out or otherwise unserviceable from damage or conditions of use, it should be replaced regardless of when it was produced or purchased.

Do I Have To Replace All Four Tires At Once?

Another common tire-buying question is if it’s necessary to replace all four tires at once. The simple answer is yes. It is recommended to replace all four at once because your tires are key to the performance and handling of your vehicle, it’s important for them to be as identical as possible. If your tires don’t match, one end of your vehicle may not be able to respond as quickly as the other, making it difficult to control. Your tires are what keep your vehicle connected to the road, so having an even surface is vital.

If you are in a situation where you will be replacing fewer than four tires, select tires that are similar to what is currently installed on your vehicle. If you are replacing just two tires, those two tires should only be installed on the rear axle. You should only consider tires that are within the same category as your existing ones.

If you have a vehicle that came equipped with a staggered fitment (different size tires on the front and back) then you should check your vehicle owner’s manual for replacement recommendations.

Which Tires Are Better, New or Used?

There are a lot of risks associated with buying used tires. Since you don’t know the history of the tires, it can be difficult to know if they’ve been previously run under inflated, over loaded or have other unseen internal damage which could lead to an unexpected failure. Used tires might also have uneven wear, which can cause noise, vibration or other problems and may need to be replaced much sooner than new tires. It is best to replace tires with new tires of the same category, size, load capacity and speed rating as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Checking Air Pressure

  • Remove the tire’s valve cap.
  • Place the gauge over the tire’s valve stem and press firmly so that no escaping air is heard. The tire gauge will indicate how much pressure is in the tire.
  • Adjust the tire’s air pressure as needed. When adding air, push the air hose into the valve firmly, until the air stops escaping. Check the pressure every few seconds to help judge the amount of air going into the tire, until you reach the recommended air pressure. If the tire’s pressure is greater than it should be, use the nipple on the tire gauge to press the center of the tire valve stem and release air.
  • Replace the valve cap.
  • Repeat the process for the other tires. Don’t forget the spare tire.

Tire Maintenance

There are several tire maintenance procedures that automotive repair professionals should do because they require special tools and knowledge. However, understanding these procedures will help you feel more confident in dealing with a repair provider.

Tire Rotation

Tires on the front and the rear of vehicles operate at different loads and perform different steering and braking functions, resulting in unequal wear patterns. To gain maximum life and performance from your tires, it is essential to rotate your vehicle’s tires. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for mileage recommendations. Usually tire rotation is performed between 5,000 and 7,000 miles. Common on performance cars are tires designed to rotate in a specific direction; these can only be rotated front-to-rear, and if different tire sizes are used on the front and rear axles rotation is not possible.

Tire Balancing

Properly balanced tires help minimize uneven wear and extend their life. When tires are balanced, small weights are attached to the wheels to limit vibration of the tire and wheels as they turn. Newly installed tires should be balanced, and thereafter whenever a vibration is noticed. Balancing is also called for whenever a tire is removed from the wheel, for example to repair a puncture.

Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment is the measurement of the position of the wheels compared to specifications that the vehicle manufacturers recommend. Each vehicle has specific wheel alignment settings. If any alignment measurement falls outside the specified range, uneven tire wear can result, vehicle handling may be affected and fuel economy can be diminished.

You should have the wheel alignment checked and adjusted when new tires are installed, and thereafter any time when unusual steering characteristics are observed. A vehicle’s wheels are properly aligned when the car will drive down the road in a straight line without drifting or pulling to either side. A drift or pull can be caused by problems other than just alignment, so a thorough inspection should be performed by a qualified shop to determine the exact nature of the problem before an alignment is performed.