At Cooper, we talk tires everyday -- tread compound, sidewall design, carcass construction, performance metrics, fitments -- the list of jargon could fill a library. But it’s important to take a step back and remember that not every driver on the road understands that tires matter. Tires play a crucial role in your safety on the road and the performance of your vehicle.
With more than a century of experience in designing and manufacturing tires, the experts at Cooper want to drive home the importance of tires through facts every driver should know. The following are a few of the many tire maintenance and safety facts that Cooper uses to help consumers realize that “Tires Matter”.
Your tires are what connect you to the road.
The four tires on your vehicle are the only parts to come in contact with and keep you connected to the road. For safety and good performance, you must properly care for, maintain and inspect your tires.
“All season” tires are not winter tires.
“All season” tires are a great choice for the majority of customers, as they are designed specifically to perform well in year-round moderate weather. If you live in an area with severe winter weather conditions, it is highly recommended that you install winter tires during the winter months, typically from November through March. Winter tires are specifically designed and formulated to improve braking and handling on snow and ice. It is highly recommended that winter tires be placed in all four positions for optimal winter performance. However, if you choose to only install two winter tires, they must be placed on the rear axle positions. Winter tires can be identified by the 3-Peak Mountain and Snowflake symbol that is located on the tire’s sidewall.
The valve stem assembly is important for maintaining proper inflation pressure.
Those little caps on the valve stem of your tires are designed to keep moisture and dirt out, as well as to provide an additional seal to the valve core to hold air in the tires. Always make sure valve caps are on every tire! Also, when you have a tire replaced, have a new valve stem assembly installed at the same time.
The correct pressure for your tire is not found on its sidewall.
The pressure indicated on a tire sidewall is the maximum pressure allowed for the tire. It is not intended as a guide for normal inflation pressure. The proper inflation pressure continues to be what is clearly stated in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and/or on the vehicle placard found on the driver’s side doorjamb, glove box or fuel door.
Visually assessing proper pressure is impossible.
Even though your tires may look properly inflated, they may be under inflated by as much as 50 percent.1 It is important to have the proper inflation pressure in your tires, as under inflation can lead to tire failure, irregular tread wear, and increased vehicle fuel consumption.
Proper pressure can save money at the pump.
Tires that are under inflated by eight PSI or more can reduce the life of the tire by 9,000 miles, and can increase the vehicle's fuel consumption by four percent.2 Be sure to routinely check your tire pressure to reduce your gasoline consumption and overall expenses on the road.
Outside temperature can affect your tire’s pressure.
Because tires are filled with air, the outside temperature can affect your tire’s pressure more than you might expect. On average, experts say that tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch for every 10° F drop in the temperature.1 The changing seasons are a good reminder to check inflation pressure.
Tread can be checked with a U.S. penny.
Proper tread depth helps tires maintain traction and improves handling. Proper tread depth can also help prevent hydroplaning. Additionally, bald tires are more likely to be damaged by potholes and other road hazards. The tread on your tires should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep and can be checked by inserting a U.S. penny into the tread, with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point, it is time to replace the tire.
While not recommended, if only purchasing two tires, install them on the back axle.
When replacing tires on a vehicle, it is recommended and preferred that all four tires be replaced at the same time. However if you can only purchase two new tires at a time, the new pair should always be installed on the rear axle for both front and rear-wheel drive vehicles. By placing the new tires on the rear axle, the deeper tire tread will help drivers maintain control on wet roads, which can help to prevent the vehicle from a potentially hazardous over-steer handling condition especially during sudden maneuvers. Many consumers assume that new tires should go on the front, especially if they have a front-wheel drive vehicle, however, this is not correct.
Tires should be checked at least once a month and before a long road trip for routine maintenance and safety.
Checking your tires for proper maintenance and safety is a simple, do-it-yourself routine that will get you road ready. As the only part of your vehicle connecting it to the road, checking them monthly and before road trips is recommended.
Follow these easy steps that take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Check the Pressure
- Be sure to check air pressure when tires are cool (minimum three hours after driving).
- Find manufacturer’s recommended air pressure located on the vehicle doorjamb, glove box, fuel door or the owner’s manual. Note: the tire pressure listed on the tire sidewall is the maximum pressure, not the recommended pressure
- Remove the valve cap and take the tire gauge and press firmly on valve stem.
- If the reading is lower than the recommended level, add air and check again
- Over inflated? Push on the metal valve core in the center of the valve with the nub on the back of the tire gauge to release air, and check again.
- Once recommended pressure is reached, replace valve cap.
Check the Tread
- Insert the edge of a U.S. penny in the tire tread, with Lincoln’s head down.
- If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread.
- If the top of his head is visible at any point around the tire, it is time to replace the tire.
Check the Overall Condition
- Visually check for cuts, cracks, splits, punctures, irregular wear and bulges.
- If any of these conditions are spotted, or if you are doubtful about the condition of your tires, visit a dealer for a professional inspection.
Worn out tires are dangerous.
Tires contain “wear bars” in the grooves of the tire tread which show up when only 2/32nds of an inch (1.6 mm) tread is remaining. At this stage, your tires must be replaced immediately. Tires worn beyond this stage are dangerous.
Never purchase or install used tires on your vehicle.
Cooper recommends that you never purchase or install used tires. Not all tire damage that can lead to tire failure is outwardly visible. Such damage can eventually lead to tire failure. Just remember, the previous consumer removed those tires from their vehicle for a reason. Do you really want to put your own and your family’s safety at risk without knowing why the tire was removed from service? Used tires, especially tires with an unknown history, should be considered dangerous!
1Cooper Tire web site: Tire Maintenance - Inflation Pressure
2Cooper Tire web site: Tire Safety Tips - Proper Inflation