5 common tire myths debunked

(Condensed from an article from Popular Mechanics)

Although tires are one of the most important parts of your vehicle, often, they’re the most misunderstood. So, let’s “pop” a few misconceptions.

Tires at Denny Menholt Toyota in Rapid City, South Dakota1. Myth: My car’s tire-pressure monitoring system makes sure my tires are adequately inflated.

The truth: TPMS isn’t required to issue a warning until the pressure is 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. That’s “well below the pressure required for safe driving,” according to AAA and “barely adequate to carry the vehicle’s maximum load,” says the Rubber Manufacturers’ Association.

Set your tire pressure to at least the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation, which is found on the driver’s door jamb. It’s better to set your tires a few psi higher than lower.

2. Myth: When replacing only two tires, the new ones go on the front.

The truth: Rear tires provide stability, and without stability, steering or braking on a wet or even damp surface might cause a spin. If you have new tires up front, they will easily disperse water, while the half-worn rears will go surfing. Don’t believe it? Watch this.

3. Myth: A tire is in danger of bursting if pressure exceeds the “max press” number on the sidewall.

The truth: The “max press” number has nothing to do with a tire’s burst pressure. The “max press” and “max load” numbers indicate the pressure at which the tire will carry the maximum amount of weight. A new, quality tire will not pop at an even multiple of the “max press.”

4. Myth: Low-profile tires fitted on large-diameter wheels improve handling.

The truth: The short sidewalls of low-profile tires enhance the tires’ response when the driver first turns the steering wheel. That gives the driver the (often false) feeling the tire has tons of grip. But after that initial movement, it’s the stickiness of the rubber that determines how well the tire grips the road.

5. Myth: All tires with the same designation are exactly the same size.

The truth: Think all 225/35R19s (or whatever tire size) are exactly 225 millimeters wide and their sidewalls are exactly 35 percent as tall as the tire is wide? Not exactly.

All the tires of a specific part number or SKU can be can be slightly wider or narrower than the nominal width, and their profile can be slightly taller or shorter than the stated percentage. Why? A wider, taller tire puts more rubber on the ground, which is good for a performance tire. A shorter, narrower tire uses less material.

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