Features to look for in new tires
Many motorists don’t give their tires a second thought until the time comes to replace them. And that time is usually when the tires are old, bald, and about to disintegrate. Ignoring your tires until they’re about to fail could be dangerous. Tires gradually lose their pliability over time. They become brittle, and eventually crack. The tread can separate from the tire’s internal belt with potentially deadly results. There are countless recorded accidents that are caused by failure of degraded tires. The tragic crash that killed actor Paul Walker involved tires that were twice the recommended age for the car he was riding in.
When is a good time to replace your tires? A general rule of thumb is to replace tires after five years in use, and 10 years after their date of manufacture. After five years in use, they will need to be inspected at least once per year by a professional-or just replace them, to be on the safe side. The manufacturing date or United States Department of Transportation code is stamped on the tire’s sidewall as four numbers: the first two numbers are the week, and the second two, the year. A tire with a code of 1017 was made in the 10th week of 2017.
When considering new tires, look for the Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG). These are some of the grades indicated on the measure:
Treadwear. This is a number that indicates how a tire compares to a reference tire. A tire with a rating of 200 will last twice as long as one rated 100. The problem is that the rating doesn’t indicate the tire life in kilometers, which would be more useful.
Traction. This indicates the tire’s grip level on a wet surface. Ultra high-performance tires are expected to get the highest grade, AA. Most car tires get the next best: A. A relatively small percentage gets the B grade. Look for an A grade when tire shopping.
Temperature. The grade indicates the resistance of a tire to heat buildup. A Consumer Reports article counted a third of its tire sample achieving the highest grade of A, with 59 percent getting the next B grade, and 11 percent getting the lowest C rating. Look for tire with a grade of B or higher.
Low Rolling Resistance. Rolling resistance means the energy a tire needs to be rotated along the road. Less rolling resistance means better fuel economy. A US Department of Energy study estimated that 4 percent to 11 percent of fuel consumption is consumed by tire rolling resistance. Tiremakers can change a tire’s tread pattern, internal structure, and compound to lessen rolling resistance. Buying a tire designed to have low rolling resistance, usually denoted with “Eco” or “Green” branding, can help you lower your car’s fuel consumption.
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