A car tire is to automobiles what a leg is to human beings. They play an incredibly important role in the overall functioning of your cars. Your vehicle can’t go anywhere without it. Vehicles typically have four tires, except in special cases of dually pickup vehicles and heavy-duty trucks. They perform the same primary functions in all cars.
Car tires, which are situated at the end of the axles, are the only entities making contact with the road surface. They are designed to bear structural weight and absorb shocks from the road. Tires also relay torque, traction, and braking forces to the road surface. It determines (changes and maintains) the direction of car travel. In this article, we will be primarily discussing car tires and how to replace them efficiently. Also, we will be highlighting factors to consider before buying a car tire, how to know when to change your car tire. Some frequently asked questions will be answered.
Car tires are ring-shaped components that encircle the rims of wheels. They help to transfer the load of the vehicles from the axle to the ground, through the wheels. More than that, they transmit traction on the road surface over which the wheels run. The majority of the modern-day tires are pneumatically inflated.
This aids them in providing a malleable cushion to absorb shock as the car tires travel over rugged terrain. The prints that tires leave on their trail are called contact patches. Fabric and wire, natural rubber, synthetic rubber, including carbon black, and other inorganic compounds are the materials for pneumatic tires.
A modern pneumatic tire consists of a tread and a body. The tread generates traction and the body carries the required quantity of compressed air. Tires were not always made of rubber. The first ones were metal bands suited around wooden wheels to forestall wear and tear. The rubber tires that replaced them were solid, not pneumatic.
Today, metal car tires are still used in some locomotives as well as railcars. And solid rubber tires are used in non-automotive applications such as carts, lawnmowers, casters, and wheelbarrows. While pneumatic tires are employed in several automobile types such as cars, buses, trucks, aircraft, and even heavy-duty equipment.
Can a car tire burst?
Yes, they can burst. Generally, tires burst as a result of the rapid loss of pressurized air. Tires can’t hold all the air inside them if the structural integrity is compromised. The pressurized air leaves, as a result, tearing through the tire and causing an explosion. This will consequently damage the tire surface.
What causes a car tire to burst?
The following are the reasons why a tire could burst.
Prevailing bad road conditions can pose threats to your car tires. With practice, however, you may be able to navigate bad roads. Notwithstanding, obstacles, bumps, and potholes on the road can be, sometimes, unavoidable. The resulting contact can cut open the tire surface, leaving pressurized air to escape. This causes the tire to burst.
Exposure to high temperatures can damage most components in cars, including tires. Excessive heat can cause your car tire to burst. Temperature is directly proportional to pressure. This means that the pressure inside the car tire increases as the temperature increases. Add this to the friction with the road surface, and you will get a recipe for a tire burst.
Low air pressure is arguably the most common cause of a tire burst. Compared to overinflation, which is not such a great concern, underinflation is responsible for about 75% of tire blowouts. Underinflated tires flex excessively, increasing their contact patch with the road surface. This leads to increased friction, consequently increased temperature inside the tire. This can cause any tire to burst.
Every tire type available in the market is designed to function at specific speeds. The production materials and design allow for the tire to withstand speed only up to that point. Beyond that, the tire integrity will buckle, resulting in bursting.
Overloading is similar to underinflation in many ways. The resulting excessive weight in your vehicle transfers the load to the tires. This will also cause flexing, ultimately causing the car tire to burst as in underinflation.
Replacing your car tire
What do you need to do when your tire bursts? Anyone with a third of a good sense knows replacement is the next proper thing. So, this section will take you through a step-by-step process on how to replace your tires. Note: Always ensure to consult your owner’s manual for peculiar steps to change a flat tire for your vehicleNow, let’s go.
1. Park your car
If your car isn’t already parked, the first thing to do would be to park it. Avoid braking or turning abruptly if you have a flat tire. Instead, slowly reduce speed and park your car on a straight stretch, leveled road with a broad shoulder. Straight stretch so that oncoming traffic can see you and a leveled road is to avoid rolling. A free parking lot is also ideal if you can find one.
2. Put on hazard lights
If you’re on the side of the road, the hazard lights help other motorists see you. Turn them on as soon as you realize you have to pull over.
3. Apply the parking brake
The parking brake will help to prevent your car from rolling even on the not-so-flat surface. Apply them as soon as you’re parked.
4. Use wheel wedges
In addition to the parking brake, wheel wedges go behind or in front of the tires to prevent rolling. The rule of thumb is to place it behind the front tires if you’re working on the rear, and vice versa. Bricks and large stones can work in the absence of a wheel wedge.
5. Attach wheel cover (hubcap)
Note: Jump to number 6 if your lug nuts are exposed. Wheel covers typically cover the lug nuts on the wheels. It’s more efficient to remove the hubcap before attempting to list the car with a jack. Your owner's manual will contain the proper way to remove your hubcap.
6. Remove lug nuts
Use the lug wrench to turn the lug nuts anticlockwise until you encounter no resistance. You will have to apply force. Loosen the lug nuts only to anywhere between ¼ and ½ of a turn, but don’t remove completely just yet. Leave that for when it’s time to pull the wheel off the vehicle.
7. Put jack underneath vehicle
The proper place for the jack is typically under the car just alongside the flat tire. Most vehicles will have this area clearly marked out. Your owner’s manual will contain the specifics of how you can properly use the jack without damage.
8. Raise the car
Using the well-positioned jack, raise your vehicle until the flat tire is about six inches above ground level. Note: Don’t place any part of your body underneath the vehicle while and after you raise it.
9. Completely loosen lug nuts
Now, fully remove the lug nuts. You can use your hand mostly for this.
10. Remove the damaged car tire
Grab the tire using both your hands and pull it gently towards you. Do this until it comes entirely off the hub.
11. Mount spare car tire on the hub
Gently, mount the spare tire on the lug bolts to replace the flat tire. Again, push it gently until the supposed length of the lug bolts go through the rim, showing on the other side.
12. Instal light nuts
Using your hand, return the lug nuts to the bolts. Use your hand to tighten them as much as possible.
13. Partially lower vehicle
Use the jack to lower the car until the spare tire is sitting on the ground. However, the full car weight won’t yet be on it.
14. Completely tighten the lug nut
Use the lug wrench to tighten the nuts, turning them clockwise as much as you can until you meet reasonable resistance.
15. Fully lower the car
You should now finish lowering your car so that it’s completely sitting on the ground. Remove the jack.
16. Return hubcap
If you took a wheel cover from the damaged tire, put it on the spare. Check your owner’s manual for how to replace it. Put it away if it doesn’t fit.
17. Keep all your equipment
Excitement can make you forget your equipment. Carry your wheel wedge, lug wrench, jack, flat tire, and even the hubcap (if it didn’t fit).
18. Check car tire pressure
Do this before you drive off. It’s to ensure the spare is safe to drive on. Drive to a technician if the pressure is insufficient.
19. Repair your damaged car tire
Don’t forget that spare tires are temporary. They are not designed for long-term use, driving long distances at high speeds. So, drive carefully until you can get your busted tire fixed. Always take your tires to a professional technician.
How long does it take to replace a flat car tire?
If you’re not waiting for a professional, the whole process of replacing a tire should not exceed 30 minutes. Be careful not to skip any step. You can practice by changing a tire in your spare time to help you prepare for when you have to.
How can I extend the life of my car tires?
It’s one thing to know how to fix a flat tire, it’s quite another thing to keep it in good condition. The following are ways that you can Maintain your tire and reduce the chances of a flat:
- Keep your tires properly inflated at all times.
- Always check for tread wear.
- Rotate your tires as instructed by your owner’s manual.
- Replace all four tires (or more as the case may be) at the same time. Safety, performance, and efficiency will be reduced if they are mismatched.
- Unless it’s recommended by the manufacturer, replace all four tires with the same tire type. The alternative will alter differentials.
- Tire age starts counting from the date of manufacture, not the sale. The reason is that tires deteriorate even when they are in storage.
- Car tires age quicker in warmer climates.
Should you replace the front or rear tires?
As a rule, install all four new tires at the same time. This will ensure better handling, comfort, and performance. You can, however, also replace tires in pairs. But always install the new pair at the rear axle and leave the old pair at the front. Prioritizing the rear axle helps to reduce hydroplaning and improve control even on wet roads.
How long do car tires last?
Generally, all tires have expiration dates. Even though tires can run for up to 10 years, the consensus is that they should be replaced every six years.
How do you know the age of your car tire?
A code is written on the sidewall of every tire. It’s in this format: xx/yy. The first two numbers “xx” represent the week it was manufactured and the last two “yy” connote the years. As an example, 22/21 would mean that the tire was manufactured in the 22nd week of 2021.
Is it okay to buy a used car tire?
Yes, it’s safe to purchase used tires as long as you carefully pick the right ones. Review and ensure it has all the desirable qualities of a good tire before putting your money down.
What are the signs of a bad car tire?
Always check your tires. That’s the only way you can know when it’s due for a change. Well, that and when it bursts, but nobody wants that. The following are some signs that show your tire is bad:
- Bulging: Usually after forceful impact.
- Vibration: When the tire is out of control.
- Weathering: Often leaves cracks on the surface.
- Tread depth: Exceeds 2//32nds of an inch.
- Tire age: More than 6 years.
Car tires are a primary need in vehicles. As such, they should function properly function at all times. Inspect and rotate your tires frequently to prolong their lives. Watch out for signs of bad tires to stay ahead of your safety.