When it comes to driving, if anything, keep your tires maintained! It is detrimental your tires have sufficient tread, are the right size, and are properly aligned for several reasons; safety being one of the biggest.
From how tires are made to the meaning of those weird numbers on the side, it is time to learn how tires work and keep you safe.
Before jumping right in and buying tires, take a moment to think about one thing:
“How do I know if I need new tires?”
To that, I say, “Great Question!” A general rule of thumb is to maintain at least 1/16” depth in your tread. The tread on your tires keeps you hugging the streets like a newborn scared to leave their mama.
You can quickly find out how deep your tread walls are by using an inexpensive tread measuring tool or getting the shop to check it for free.
The Safety Features Making Up Your Tire
A tire is much more than just a slab of rubber that you wear down and replace ever so often. If you have ever seen tires scattered alongside busy interstates then you have probably seen at least one other layer that makes up your tires.
Let’s take a look at the bead, body, belts, cap plies, sidewalls, and tread.
Beads are rubber coated high-strength steel cables looped along the edges of the tire. The bead gives the tire the durability it needs to support the mounting of the wheel to the car and from machines when installing on rims.
Constructed of multiple fabric layers known as plies, the body mostly made from a polyester cord ply. Most tires have two plies with the number of plies indicating overall tire strength. Commercial Plane tires use at least 30 plies to get a sense of comparison.
Your tires are lined with steel belts to preserve strength and tire integrity. These belts provide the necessary resistance to keep your tire intact and reinforce the tread. The ultimate purpose of these belts is to provide a sense of puncture resistance and helps keep the tires flat for optimal road contact.
Tires that are made for high-speed performance have something called cap plies. These plies are an extra one or two layers of fabric needed to keep everything secured at high speeds. Not all tires come with caps, but top performance cars are expected to have tires with cap plies.
Sidewalls are the lateral stability of the tire and protect the body plies and aids in keeping air from escaping. There could be additional parts used to increase the lateral stability of the sidewalls.
Finally, the tread comes into play. Your tire’s tread is comprised of a mix of several natural and synthesized rubbers. During the mixing and molding, the tread is smooth and soft.
It is not until a pattern is implemented on the tire, does legitimate traction begin to form. The patterns on the tire determine tire traction.
This ingredient list is placed into a tire-building machine, where it will be properly measured, formed, and made to manufacturer’s standards.
Of course, there are several more steps and even a few we skipped, but this is just a simple overview. Essentially your tires are the most important safety feature your car has. If they are not properly maintained, then a bunch of the other stuff like brakes and steering won’t matter.
Our take away from this is that tires are the backbone of our vehicular safety. Stay tuned to learn more about tread, tire pressure, and more great tips that you can find in your auto repair manuals.