When selecting tires for your vehicle, the quality of the tread you choose can make a significant impact on how well it performs. That is why it is essential that you take time when selecting them.
Researching your car and driving style requires asking the right questions, so you can choose tires that offer comfort, control, traction, fuel economy and cost efficiency.
A tire’s size can usually be identified by its sidewall or owner’s manual. These numbers provide important details about the tires, such as their construction type, load index, speed rating and more.
Typically, the letter immediately preceding your tire size indicates what kind of vehicle it was designed for. Passenger vehicles typically feature a “P,” while some light trucks will feature an “LT.”
Next to the letter, you’ll see a three-digit number which indicates the width of the tire (in millimeters) between one sidewall to another. A forward slash followed by two digits represents aspect ratio – or how tall each sidewall is as a percentage of its width; higher numbers signify greater height.
When selecting tires, tread depth is one of the most critical factors to take into account. Not only does it affect traction and safety, but also fuel economy.
Most states require your tires to have a tread depth of at least 2/32nds in order for your car to pass state inspection and remain safe while driving. This minimum amount of tread is necessary in order for the car to pass inspection and meet safety standards on the road.
Tires with too little tread can lose traction and increase stopping distances. Therefore, it is wise to check your tires’ tread depth at least once a month and before long journeys.
You can measure tire tread depth by placing a gauge on top of a groove in the tire. Rotate it around until you reach a number with a line underneath it.
The load capacity of a tire is essential when it comes to performance, grip, fuel efficiency and tread life. This factor becomes especially crucial when towing equipment or hauling more people and items.
In this instance, your tire should have a load index that matches or exceeds your vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). You can find this number in your owner’s manual and use it to calculate an appropriate tire size and load index.
Another important factor to consider is load range, an outdated measure of a tire’s carrying capacity that appears on the sidewall as a letter. While it gives some idea of how strong a tire might be, its strength really lies in how much air can be held inside rather than the actual number of plies used during construction.
The temperature of a tire’s tread directly affects its adhesion and wear characteristics. This is especially critical for race cars, which must use their tires to grip oval tracks or other fast driving surfaces.
When the surface of a tire becomes too hot, it loses grip. This can cause the car to overheat, leading to loss of control and eventual breakdown.
A reliable way to measure tire temperature is with a probe-type pyrometer. These devices penetrate into the rubber and provide an accurate core temperature reading that’s more precise than an infrared thermometer.
Ideal settings for the pyrometer tip include setting it so that it stops penetrating just before reaching the cord of a tire, which ensures consistent and relative temperature readings that will improve data sheet accuracy.