Summer is here and it’s hot outside. Nowhere is this more obvious than on a large stretch of dark pavement. If you think it’s hot, your tires do too. When the pavement starts melting, the excessive heat can lead to premature tire failure. Here’s a few tips on how you can keep your tires in great shape, no matter what the thermometer reads.
Know the Pressure
Under-inflated tires deform the tread profile and drastically increase rolling resistance, friction, and heat. Proper air pressure is the single greatest way to keep a tire in great shape. Check the air pressure monthly when the tires are cold, as you cannot tell by looking if a tire is under-inflated. Inflate if necessary to the recommended PSI in the owner’s manual or on the door. Remember that the PSI on the tire is a maximum inflation, and not where you want your tires to be. If you notice a slow leak, have it checked out by a tire service shop.
Keep Them Clean
When you wash your vehicle, do you take a few minutes and get the tires clean? If not, you should. Brake dust, road debris, and all kinds of oils can build up on the surface of a tire, reducing its ability to shed heat. Use a specific tire cleaner and conditioner or just your regular car wash soap and go over the inside and outside sidewalls with a tire brush. This is an excellent time to check for cracks, debris in the tread, or punctures.
Store Them Properly
If you have winter tires for bad weather months or sticky tires for track days, knowing how to store them properly will increase their service life. Do not store tires in the hot sun. A recent test showed tires in direct sunlight can reach 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Ouch. Stack them in a temperature controlled environment, like a basement. Keep them dry and, ideally, covered for maximum protection.
Know the Three Ts
If it’s time to replace your tires, a little bit of research will go a long way towards picking the tires that are best for your needs. Check the NHTSA treadwear, traction, and temperature ratings that are stamped onto the sidewall of every modern tire. Treadwear is the durability of the tire, compared to the manufacturers other tires. The higher the number, the longer the tread life. Traction is exactly what it sounds like: a rating assigned to the tire’s ability to grip the road during a stop on wet pavement. Temperature is a tire’s resistance to heat buildup, and the ability to rapidly shed that heat. The grades are A, B, and C, with of course A being the highest, most heat resistant tires. If you often find yourself driving for long periods of time at high speed through areas with triple digit temps, you will want the A temperature rating.
With just a little bit of prevention, you can help ensure that your tires last their full expected life. This small time investment saves money, time, and helps keep you safe during the long hot summer.