Tires, New Tires, Tire Repair
We refer to our vehicles as "our wheels" for a reason. Without wheels and tires, a car might as well serve as a less portable, slightly better insulated tent. The purpose of a vehicle is to quickly and efficiently take people wherever their hearts desire. While we brush up on our car maintenance knowledge, we often neglect reading up on tires. A wheel, after all, is a wheel and will take someone from point A to point B. However, consumers should take a lot more than looks into factor when purchasing new tires.
How To Read a Tire
On the side wall of every tire, an alphanumeric code describes the dimensions and capabilities of the tire.
The letters in the beginning of the tire code describe the type of tire and its intended use. There are four types of wheels commonly displayed at the beginning of tire. Most tires begin with the letter “P,” which signifies that the tire belongs to a passenger car. “LT” at the beginning of the tire code means that the tire is intended for a light truck. The “ST” shows that the tire should go on a special trailer, and a “T” signifies that the tire should only be on the vehicle temporarily. Spare tires usually begin with a “T” in their tire code.
The three digit number following the letter notes the width of the tire in millimeters from sidewall to sidewall at the widest point of the outside edge of the tire.
The 2 or 3 digit number following the slash is the aspect ratio. The tire’s aspect ratio refers to the width of the sidewall in comparison to its cross width. For example, a tire that reads 50 means that the overall sidewall height measures 50% of the tire’s width. To find the exact sidewall height, you multiply the percentage as a decimal by the width of the tire.
The letter following the aspect ratio shows construction information about the tire. The letter “B” indicates that the tire is bias-belted. In a bias-belted tire, the tire’s layers run diagonally. The letter “R” stands for radial, which means that the layers run radially across the tire.
After the construction of the tire, the next one or two digit number represents the diameter in inches of the wheel that the tire will fit.
|Alphanumeric Tire Code
|| Speed Rating
The load index follows the wheel diameter. The load index shows the maximum weight that the tire will support when properly inflated.
The speed rating tells the consumer the maximum service speed of the tire. An “H” signifies that the tire may reach a maximum speed of 130 mph. The letter “V” increases to 149 mph, while the speed of a “W” tire reaches 168 mph. The “Y” and “Z” labeled tires reach the highest speeds at 186 mph then 149+ mph. Most vehicle ride on “H” tires while high end sports cars usually have “Z” tires.
On the tire, a small DOT label located on the sidewall near the tire identification number indicates that the tire passes all guidelines provided by the Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation sets safety standards to ensure that all drivers remain safe out on the road.
The Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) created by the Department of Transportation, helps consumers make educated choices when selecting tires. The DOT bases their grading system on relative tread wear, traction, and temperature capabilities.
Tread wear refers to the wear rate of the tire over time. For tread wear, the greater the number, the longer the tread wear, and the best tread wear tires have a grading over 100. A potential tire buyer should note that only tires within a manufacturer’s line can be compared for tread wear. The buyer cannot cross compare tread wear for tires. The user’s driving habits, terrain, climate, and service practices play a large factor in wear rate.
The traction grades of a tire measure the tire’s ability stop and remain under control on a slick, wet surface. The DOT tests the traction grades by testing a vehicle’s braking response on wet asphalt on a straightaway. The highest traction grade is AA, followed by A, B, and C. The AA traction grade tires should stop a much shorter distance than C rated tires.
The tires constantly face high temperatures, and high temperatures increase the risk of a possible blowout. Temperature grades provided by the DOT ensure that the tire can withstand high temperature so that the tire does not face the risk of a blowout or degeneration. The federal government requires tires to receive a minimum of a C grading. However, the most heat resistant tires have an A rating.
When Should I Replace My Tires?
The driver should routinely inspect the tires for tread depth and aging. Bald tires do not have as much traction on the road, so they tend to slip and do not stop as easily. Worn tires place the driver, passengers, and other vehicles on the road at risk because they do not perform optimally on the roadways. Drivers should replace their tires immediately if they lack tread.
In addition to monitoring the tires, drivers should also maintain routine tire rotation, balance, and alignment schedules. Rotation, balance, and alignment services allow the tires and wheels to perform optimally while driving. In addition, these services protect the tires by reducing the wear rate and ensuring overall even wear on the tires. Uneven wear rates increase the risk of flats and decrease a driver's safety on the road.
Hopewell Tire and Auto provides Tires, Tire Repair, and Tire Inspections for Athens GA and the surrounding areas. Our Tire Repair and Tire Replacement services are second to none.
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