Want some next-level know-how that will take your tire knowledge from good to great? Step inside the tire shop with us to learn how to make your tires work for you.
Safety should trump durability
Most drivers want two major things from their tires: precise performance and a long tread life. Tire manufacturers spend a great deal of time and energy building products that meet both needs.
But when it comes down to it, those two qualities don’t always work well together. The highest-performing tires handle so well because they have a tight grip on the road. How do they get such a firm grip? They have softer compounds that are more sensitive to the pavement. Unfortunately, those soft compounds typically wear down faster.
Meanwhile, tires with massive mileage warranties are so durable because they consist of harder compounds that resist tread wear. The downside? They’re less sensitive to the road and often don’t handle as well, particularly on wet roads.
Here’s our stance: Drivers should prioritize safety over tread life. In our view, there’s no point in having tires that last forever if they don’t respond in the split-second when you need them most.
Certainly, it’s a nuanced balance. For instance, our intensive research and development efforts have allowed us to craft durable tires that perform expertly. But we will never sacrifice safety for the sake of durability, and we don’t think you should, either.
For more information on maximizing the durability of your tires, click here.
How to check your tread depth
As your tires wear down, it’s important to know how much tread life you’ve got left. There are a few ways to do this.
You can visit your dealer for an inspection. That’s never a bad idea, since they’ll also check for other issues, such as punctures, uneven wear and suboptimal tire pressure.
If you want to check your own tread wear, the penny test is a good trick. Place an upside-down penny inside multiple tread grooves in different areas of the tire. If you see the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, it’s time to buy new tires.
We make things even easier for you, though. Our patented Driving Safety Indicator tells you how much tread remains in the main grooves of each tire. Numbers on the tread surface allow you to check the remaining tread percentage
Here are some more tips for assessing your tread depth and some ways to evaluate studded tires.
The effects of altitude and temperature on tire pressure
Tire maintenance can be even more challenging in high-altitude areas or in places with vast temperature swings.
For every 1,000-foot increase in altitude, tire pressure decreases by 0.5 psi – enough to create safety hazards if tires aren’t properly inflated beforehand. Underinflated tires increase the risk of blowouts and have decreased handling properties. Before heading for the hills, make sure tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure for your car.
Since tire pressure is lower at altitude, fuel economy isn’t as strong. Lower tire pressure reduces rolling efficiency and increases heat generation. This is known as rolling resistance, which forces your car to work harder to keep moving forward. Of course, climbing steep mountain roads also drains the fuel tank more quickly than usual. Don’t forget those challenges when you’re filling up during your journey.
Wild changes in temperature also impact tire safety. A 10-degree [Fahrenheit] drop can cause tire pressure to decrease by as much a 1 psi. That’s why you may see your tire light appear on cool mornings. The key: making sure you’ve inflated your tires to the recommended level, so subtle drops in pressure are less likely to make a big difference. In consistently cold weather, make sure you’ve fully inflated your tires.
Want more insight on how to keep your tires safe? There’s a lot more where these came from. Here are some basic tire safety tips that serve as helpful refresher. And here’s a look at our Shop Talk with Nokian Tyres page, which offers a wide array of other advice to help ensure you’re steering your tire care in the right direction.