Written by a Guest Blogger
Certainly by now you would have heard people describing tires as more than just black bands of rubber that wrap around wheels. Each tire has to do the thankless and dirty job of keeping you stuck to terra firma and despite their simple appearance, each tire is the sum product of engineering, chemistry, and technology. This is why the subject of tire maintenance does come up every now and then, but there is more to tires than just ensuring that the tire pressure is according to specification.
First Line of Safety
Being the only contact points between the car and the road, a tire has a tremendous responsibility of ensure that the car’s weight and momentum can be controlled on the road. Put four credit cards on the floor and that is about the average size of a contact patch your car has to make do with from all four tires, so the forces that it has to deal with is immense.
Besides outright grip, tires are also designed to deliver better fuel mileage, and reduced road noise thanks to specialized tread patterns and rubber compounds, which are used on different parts of the tire. As a tire pattern is supposed to be kept flat and level to the road surface, the traits of a tire can be affected by the air pressure within the tire. Too much air pressure and only the middle part of the tire would be utilized, whereas too little means that only its sides will be used. This may cause the uneven wear on the tread pattern, thus affecting a tire’s performance, both in the short and long term.
Safety Systems Depends on It
Despite the recent advancements in safety technology such as autonomous steering and braking, a car’s safety system is only as good as its tires. While car makers go to great lengths to develop advanced safety systems that can detect if a car is going to lose traction and control the car’s wheel speed and engine power output to mitigate the problem in the blink of an eye, these systems are only effective when the tires are in operating condition. Most safety systems are developed with the assumption that your tires are in good shape to begin with. Stability and traction control systems require the tires themselves to be able to grip and slow down the car in order to work effectively and regain control. Electronic sensors can instantaneously gather readings from multiple aspects in the car, but it can’t ascertain what the current state of the tires is. That is up to you.
Cars are developed to Work with Certain Tires
It isn’t uncommon to find that most car makers these days develop their latest models together with a specific set of tires. This is so that the manufacturer can fine tune the car’s handling traits and performance in accordance to a specific set of tires. After all different tires can affect the car’s handling characteristics, fuel efficiency, wet and dry handling characteristics, and comfort. These days, considering the amount of development and testing that goes into a single car, the handling and performance characteristics of a car is closely linked with the tires it comes sold with. Ideally it is best to stick with the manufacturer’s recommended tires to retain the car’s characteristics as was intended by the manufacturer in the first place.
Not All Tires are Made Equally
Though they all look the same from the outside, as mentioned before, a lot of technology and development goes into making a tire. It is technology that can’t be acquired in any other way except through experience, and internal research and development. Established tire companies pour millions into the development of new tires through new tread pattern designs, better compounds, and improving the construct of a tire. It goes without saying that skimping on your tire budget for a cheaper alternative from the mainstream brands is one to be taken at your own peril. More than just being about performance and comfort, tires is the most important safety feature your car can have, and anything less than the manufacturer’s recommendation would affect your car’s safety margin.
Chris Aaron loves cars and regularly develops content for the automotive industry for blogs around the web. You can find many of his published works that cover the developments of some of the biggest brands in the world like Audi, BMW and others, including Mazda and its all-new Mazda2, one of the best hatchbacks in its class.