Rubber is a porous substance, and tires will inevitably lose some air over time due to seepage. Tire pressure is something that’s neglected by many drivers, as an “out of sight – out of mind” sort of condition. Low tire pressure, however, costs money in terms of increased rolling resistance and poorer gas mileage. Tires that are habitually run low on air also wear out prematurely, due to heat buildup and an uneven wear pattern.
The good news is that it’s an easy problem to fix.
For 100 years, tires have used the same valve design (known as a Schrade valve), identical to the valves on bicycle tires. They’re still the same design because the Schrade valve does its job well and there has never been a need to improve on it.
- Don’t rely on the ...[more]
You’ll notice that the stamp on your tire’s sidewall specifies inflation for HOT tires. Why is that?
Pretty simple physics, really. Gases expand with heat, meaning both the temperature of a friction-heated tire and ambient temperature of outside air. A rule of thumb is that for about for about every ten degrees Fahrenheit change in air temperature, your tire’s inflation will fluctuate by about one PSI. In most parts of the United States, the difference between winter and summer temperatures can be as much as a 50-degree spread, meaning a potential fluctuation of five PSI. That’s not even thinking about the 20-degree spread between hot afternoon temperatures and cooler nighttime or early morning temperatures in summer.
Tires that are low by 5 psi will hurt traction, steering re ...[more]Read More
Surely you’ve noticed the wide range of tread patterns and styles available between different tire brands and models. Here’s a brief technical breakdown of how they all work:
- Tread patterns: Tires are commonly designed with symmetrical, asymmetrical and directional tread patterns. Symmetrical treads are the most common, with ribs or tread blocks where the inboard and outboard sections of the tire come together and match. Asymmetrical tread patterns vary the groove pattern of the tire to help deflect water and snow in all-season conditions, making them a good pick for year-round use. The grooves on directional tires form a V shape at the tire’s center, helping to displace water and avoid hydroplaning. The geometry of the tread blocks and tread pattern is designed to fulfill very dedicated, s ...[more]
When you go shopping for all-terrain tires for your truck, SUV or crossover, you are typically going to be looking to split the difference between good off-road capability and decent road manners, such as handling, ride and noise suppression. Manufacturers know that many SUVs and trucks with all-terrain tires are never going to stray that far away from public roads, so they carefully compromise the tire’s off-road performance with a slight bias toward road use. So what goes into an all-terrain tire?
- All terrain tread is designed to perform under a variety of off-road conditions, while still offering decent road qualities. An all-terrain tire typically has smaller voids (meaning the lugs are tighter together) than a mud tire’s more aggressive tread, meaning they don’t have the off-road ...[more]
Tire warranties and treadlife ratings are a popular marketing tool for tire manufacturers, and as tire technology and engineering has improved, 100,000 mile warranties are not uncommon. Of course, they do come with certain strings attached, considering the variety of weather conditions, usage and road conditions that tires might see – that’s why they’re always referred to as a “limited warranty.” Here’s a quick breakdown of some common conditions of tire warranties, and how they are calculated:
- Treadlife and mileage warranties are only applicable to the original owner and original vehicle, meaning it’s crucial to retain the paperwork that certifies proof of purchase and original installation date and vehicle mileage. You may also be required to prove that tir ...[more]
I’ve got an older Chrysler 300 with high miles on it, and have always leaned toward grand touring or all-season tires to bring out the best in handling for my car, while still offering a good ride and low road noise. I went with Nitto Motivo this time around, and the Motivos do a very good job of connecting 300-plus horsepower to the pavement.
They’re quiet and forgiving, without transmitting much vibration or harshness from the road up through the steering wheel, and they don’t get rattled easily on irregular road surfaces. In the rain, they’ve got some pretty good-size tread grooves and channels that help direct water away from the tire’s contact patch, so I don’t really h ...[more]Read More
The WRG2 is the third generation of Nokian’s innovative “All-Weather Plus” tires, with a unique asymmetrical tread pattern that can address different driving conditions, weather and road conditions. The outer shoulder is narrow, with a generous number of sipes for handling and traction, with an entirely different tread design at the inner shoulder for winter driving. The tire’s center section uses 3D sipes for handling and stability, with a “slush wedge” and polished grooves to move water and slush away from the tire footprint.
Nokian tires are designed with a unique environmentally-friendly rubber compound, utilizing cool silica, canola oil and low-aromatic, purified oils for reduced rollin ...[more]Read More
Thinking about heavy-duty all-terrain tires for your truck, 4x4 SUV or Jeep? The Goodyear Wrangler MT/R is a great tire with an excellent reputation, but the Mastercraft Courser is really worth a look too.
The Wrangler really excels when it comes to tread formulation – Goodyear’s silica/rubber tread compound is sticky and flexible for traction on or off road. But look – the Mastercraft Courser also infuses silica into its tread compound.
The Mastercraft provides excellent traction off-road, with 12% more lateral grooves and an open groove design at the tire’s ...[more]Read More
You’ve got a big set of mud tires on your truck or SUV, you should be able to go anywhere and do anything with those chunky, meaty treads, shouldn’t you? Not necessarily.
Mud tires can present several different problems when driving on snow or ice. The deep voids and chunky lugs of mud tires are designed to self-clean, meaning they eject soft mud, dirt and bits of gravel from their voids, just by centrifugal force. As tires self-clean, they have a fresh surface to bite into mud with every revolution. Think for a minute, though, about the consistency of snow that’s easy to pack into a snowball – that deep, powdery snow can easily pack its way into the voids and lugs of your mud tires and stay there, drastically cutting down on traction. When that happ ...[more]Read More
So what’s the difference between winter tires and other designs, such as all-season tires or mud tires?
Winter tires have come a long way since your dad’s clunky, heavy-treaded “snow tires” or “mud grips” of a generation ago. Winter tires are specifically designed with a rubber formulation that stays flexible in sub-freezing temperatures. That flexibility is essential for proper traction on dry or wet pavement either one; other tire designs will become stiffer and hard at low temperatures, encouraging wheelspin and a poor connection with the pavement.
The down side of this is that winter tires tend to harden at temperatures above about 40 degrees or so, meaning poor handli ...[more]Read More