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Tire Performance is Something All Parents Should Think About

This post about tire performance is sponsored by Michelin USA. The content and opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

When was the last time you thought about your tires? Probably never right? It’s something I hardly ever thought about.  When I first became a parent, I remember being so concerned about getting a vehicle that had a high IIHS safety rating and getting a top of the line car seat. What I failed to focus on, though, was tire performance.

Photo of me learning about tire performance and getting ready to do a wet braking test.

Photo courtesy of Michelin

A few weeks ago, Michelin invited me to attend an interactive presentation to learn the truth about worn tires. I learned that while brakes stop your wheels, it’s your tires that stop your car. I also learned first-hand that all tires are not created equal. We did a little experiment at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds just outside Greenville, South Carolina and hit the track for an eye-opening experience.

Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds

Photo courtesy of Michelin

On the track, I tested both new and used tires from different tire companies and was surprised to learn that in some cases, a used tire performed better than a competing new tire on wet pavement.

Me testing worn tires on wet pavement

Photo courtesy of Michelin

Rethinking how tires are viewed is an important aspect of doing everything within your power to ensure your safety and that of your children. Tires are the only thing connecting your vehicle to the road. As evidenced by the test track experiment I mentioned above, all tires are not created equal.

new and worn tires

Photo courtesy of Michelin

This is why it is very important to do your research when purchasing new tires. This is where it gets tricky though.

Usually, when I research a product, I look for reviews and ratings. However, the Michelin team pointed out that most tire performance ratings only apply to new tires, not worn tires. Data on worn-tire performance isn’t readily available when buying tires. This is why Michelin is starting a long-term discussion about the performance of worn tires. Michelin believes all customers are entitled to information about long-term tire performance at the point of purchase, no matter which tire they buy.

new tires vs worn tires

Photo courtesy of Michelin

Even though it is common knowledge that driving around on totally worn tires is a bad idea, determining the point at which they should be replaced is a challenge for so many of us. We all know that as soon as we drive a new vehicle off the lot it’s considered used. The same thing goes for tires. We’re basically all driving on worn tires. This is why it is so important to check your tires.

Here are some things that you should check for:

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is generally one of those things that people tend to overlook. Yet, it is more important than you might think. Correct inflation can affect many things including fuel efficiency, stopping distance, and tread life. A vehicle with under or over-inflated tires can become harder to control, especially in inclement weather. Over-inflated tires can make your car over-react and cause your ride to be bumpy. Under-inflated tires can become significantly more difficult to stop. It can take you longer to stop, especially on wet ground, which can cause you to skid. This is why routinely checking your tire pressure is extremely important. Here’s how to do it:

  • Look up the proper tire pressure for your car. To find your tires’ proper inflation level, look for a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. It displays the vehicle weight restriction and tire information including the recommended tire pressure. The info is also found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
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Tire pressure information

  • If you do not already have a digital tire gauge, you can pick up a decent one for as low as $10. Always keep it handy in your car so you can check your tire pressure regularly.
  • Check your tires “cold”–before you’ve driven or at least three hours after you’ve driven.
  • Unscrew the valve cap (make sure you don’t lose track of it!) and press the tire gauge on the valve stem. You will probably notice a hissing sound when you first press down, but it stops once you press all the way down. Only a few seconds are needed to obtain an accurate reading. Make a note of the reading and replace the valve cap. Do this for each tire.
  • While you’re at it, check your spare tire’s pressure. You don’t want to have a flat tire and then find out your replacement is flat, too.

Tire Tread Depth

Vehicle traction is an important part of safety and this is particularly true when driving uphill or downhill, through the rain and through hairpin turns.  Ideal traction begins with healthy tread wear because the deeper the tread or groove, the better the tire will grip the road. Unfortunately, your tire tread will gradually wear down over time.  Once the tire tread reaches 2/32 inches of depth, it’s considered unsafe and it’s time for a replacement. An easy way to check your tire tread depth is by performing a penny test. This involves taking a penny and inserting Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it is time to replace the tire.

tire tread penny test

Tire Alignment

Routinely checking the wheel alignment of your vehicle is another smart way to enhance road safety. Experts recommend that drivers check the wheel alignment of their vehicles after every 12,000 miles or during yearly inspections.  If the alignment is off, the life of the tire will be shortened and mileage performance will be lowered. When maintained properly, wheel alignment assists in preventing skidding, vibration, abnormal tread wear and road noise.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the author

Diane

Diane is a New Jersey-based writer and blogger. She is a wife and the mom of a 9-year-old little boy. Through her blog, she wants to inspire moms to find Zen in their lives while offering practical tips and other valuable information to help families deal with everyday issues. Contact her at dianenassy@gmail.com