Although it doesn`t look like it the most important part of our beloved machines named cars aren`t the engines or the suspensions or how well they turn, all of that performance we can enjoy in our cars would be nothing without tires. Tires are likely one of the most important parts of a car since it`s the only contact part that the vehicle has with the ground, The performance of a car is nothing if the tires aren’t good enough much less without being coupled to a proper suspension system.
Some learner petrolheads may have asked themselves “Why the tire has a tread?” “What the M+S means on the flank of the tire?” “What are those little lumps on the tire thread used for?” In this certainly informative blogpost I surely should answer more than one question for anyone willing not to get Tire-d while reading about a car`s shoes.
1-What is tire tread?/What are those lumps on the tread for?
Beginning with the most simple of questions I should mention that the thread on a tire isn`t just there to be pleasing to the view and leave a beautiful pattern ingrained on the sand when you drive or when you go over a puddle to later admire it. It has an actual function unlike Slick tires on normal roads.
The tire Tread is the first contact the car has with the surface, not only it helps the car move but the tread also requires to meet certain requirements since the tread determines the tire function and among those requirements we have:
-A good grip of the tire tread to the contact surface both longitudinally and transversely.
-A good resistance to hits (against sidewalk curbs, jumps ...) also against cuts or heat/cold and general tear and wear on all of its lifespan.
-It needs to be able to evacuate water efficiently, therefore the tire will often incorporate grooves that point outward transversally, such grooves help evacuate the water to the sides and allow the tire to stay in contact with the ground (the effectiveness depends on the current water level on the road along the speed the car is it going currently)
-And above all a good acoustic comfort, nobody likes an effective tire on nearly all aspects but incredibly noisy and consequently annoying to its driver.
On the tire tread we also have things like the wear indicator, such indicator help us determine how worn out our tires are and also tell us when it`s about time to replace them, On countries like Spain the minimum tread depth goes around 1.6mm (for Americans and British it should be around 0,062 inches of minimum tread depth)
However there are other less frequent tire wear indicators such as the numerical control, in which the tread includes a scale indicating the depth as they are erased due to the tear and wear the tire is subjected to, but in what way tire wear affects to the performance of the car? Well as a simple example
If you drive on wet roads on a daily basis if your tires are brand new almost without wear and you enter in a corner at 80 kilometers per hour your car can easily deal with the turn since the tire can evacuate water more effectively and the rubber is far more stickier, however with a worn out one the tire won’t effectively evacuate water and your maneuverability on the rain will be considerably more dangerous than with a top notch condition tire, your safety dwindles the more the depth of the indicator dwindles.
2-What are those codes on the tire flank?
Having solved the riddle of why tires have a tread and a beautiful pattern on their contact surface… We are going to move to the burning question of why the tires have apparently random codes on the flank.
To begin All tires aren`t the same, a rain tire won`t behave as a slick tire for the circuit on a racetrack since their performance levels won`t be the same on the same situations and with varied scenarios along cars to be put on.
But how can we know what our tire is good for? To begin I should mention that on the tire flank we have information about the tire´s characteristics that will help us determine if the tire we are going to buy will be ideal for our car alongside with the purpose the car will be used on, You wouldn’t use a slick racetrack tire for a racecar that is on a urbanization with a lot of dirt roads right?
Among the many pieces of info we can get on a car we have the following:
-Width of the tire.
-Relation of Height & Width.
-Type of tire construction.
-Speed index (an F code tire can go a max speed of 80kph while a H code tire will endure a maximum of 210kph)
We also have the Load index which tells us how much weight a individual tire can hold measured in numbers from 60 to 189 with the last one being able to hold 5 tons by itself, There`s also the M+S coding which is no decoration, that pine tree also isn`t a decoration on the flank of your tire, the M+S tells you that the tire can also be used on Mud and Snow and a pine tree drawing on your tire tells you you`re using a alpine tire (Off-road or snow)
Although many tires are sold with the M+S designation not all tires with this labeling serve as all weather tires since the rubber and treads have varying performances with it being advisable to use a proper snow/off-road tire when there`s snow or mud ahead on the road, depending on what our car (Or racecar) is going to do you need to pick the right tire for it to perform the best on the scenario you want it to drive, there`s no "all uses" tire, Just the proper one for an use.
3-Applying proper tire care.
Having solved what those “apparently” meaningless codes on the tires are for I should finish with how to care properly for the shoes of your car, You wouldn`t misuse your shoes right? Changing a pair of shoes is a bit of a annoyance but changing four tires on a car is a pretty expensive thing isn`t it?
-Avoid: Hard accelerations/Braking, Pulling off burnouts or drifting since this wears out the tires prematurely and leave scars on the tire tread that affect the grip.
-Always make sure to properly balance the tires and pair it with a good alignment since this is something to be taken into account when it comes to speak of tire wear since a uneven wear will cause the tire to be replaced before time.
-Its also important to control the tire pressure and make sure they`re on the recommended air pressure by the automaker since the more deflated a tire is the more it will wear out (You`ll also experience a nasty side effect of increased fuel consumption)
-I must insist that Respecting the tire use conditions is vital, NEVER use a road tire to drive like Colin McRae on gravel roads or overload the car like someone going to la Mecca without the minimum worry about safety, It is also important to change the tires as soon strange lumps or deformations appear including cuts on the tire`s flank.
-RESPECT the conditions of use of the tire, do not use a road tire to drive like Colin McRae in gravel roads or overload the car, it is also important to change the tires with deformations and also make sure that there are no cuts or deformations in the tire.
Now that you know nearly all about tires along how to care for them I`m sure you will now look at them with a different view and likely prolong their lifespan with proper care.