So your vehicle’s been sitting for a while…you get in it, start the engine and pull out of the driveway when you notice a hard, rough (but very regular) vibration that only gets worse with speed. It doesn’t feel like it’s coming from the driveline or suspension – so what is it?
It could be that the tires have developed flat spots.
With the weight of the vehicle pressing down on the tires for long periods, a section of the rubber and belts can become softer (or harder) than the rest of the tire. This can be exacerbated by cold weather, or just by parking on a cold concrete floor.
Low-profile tires with short sidewalls can be more prone to flat-spotting, as can tires with an H or higher speed rating. In most cases, you can j ...[more]
Nobody ever looks forward to a flat tire, and nobody ever says "well, that was a really good time" after having one. You can at least minimize the damage to your tire and danger to yourself, though.
Flats vs Blowouts
If you get a blowout, you'll know about it right away. Sometimes the tire can fail dramatically, with a bang as loud as a shotgun going off. Other times, it might just be a loss of air and a sudden change in your car's handling, followed by vibration, noise and a pull to one side. If it's a front tire that fails, your car might be a real handful to drive until you can get to a stop.
In either case, your first job is to pull off the road as quickly (but safely!) as you can. Don't jam on the brakes or make any sudden mo ...[more]
Driving around on underinflated tires is just a bad idea all the way around. Underinflated tires increase a car’s rolling resistance, meaning a drop in fuel efficiency since it takes more energy to move the vehicle down the road.
A single tire that’s down by ten pounds of air means a 3.3 percent drop in fuel economy…multiply that by all four tires, and you can figure on giving up ten percent of your gas mileage. The added friction and rolling resistance also means more heat is generated, and heat is the enemy of the internal structure of a tire. That heat will damage a tire to the point of failure. Studies show that underinflated tires are a full 25 percent more likely to fail, and at least half of one-car accidents involve a tire problem as a factor. An ...[more]
In a perfect world, all four tires would wear out at the same time. In the same perfect world, everyone would be able to afford a whole set of tires all at once. Unfortunately, things often just do not work out that way.
Sometimes you may just have to replace tires as you can afford them, one or two at a time, but there are some important things to bear in mind if you have to do that.
If you can only afford to replace one or two tires, it’s essential that you go with tires that are identical (or at least as close as possible) to the car’s remaining tires. That means that internal construction, size, tread pattern and design should be close to the same. Don’t mix winter tires with all-season tires, ...[more]