Tire Shop Services Ensure the Best Ride

October 9th, 2020 by

A mechanic is shown balancing a tire at a tire shop near you.

Tires are an incredibly important part of vehicle safety and performance. They connect your vehicle to the road surface and are a vital part of steering, acceleration, and braking. Whether the weather is hot and dry, cold and snowy, or pouring rain, a good set of tires ensures the best traction and handling. Instead of regularly visiting a tire shop, many drivers neglect their tires, which leads to shorter tire life and even potential tire failure when ignored for too long.

While a flat tire might seem harmless, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says tire failure accounts for hundreds of traffic fatalities every year. There were 733 such fatalities and tens of thousands of crashes resulting in injuries and property damage in 2016, according to NHTSA. The numbers are improving with the tire air pressure monitoring systems now included in many new vehicles. That still leaves older cars on the road that likely are running on tires that are in poor shape and might lead to an accident.

Car Owners Often Skip Simple Maintenance

Most car owners are aware their tires require sufficient air pressure to work properly. But only about 20 percent of motorists know how to use a tire pressure gauge. That adds up to a lot of cars on Illinois roadways that have less-than-ideal rubber on the road. Fortunately, technology is helping to pick up some of the slack.

A lot of newer car models come equipped with tire-monitoring systems that warn you when one or more is low on air and needs refilling or a possible tire repair. A sensor inside each tire tracks the air pressure and triggers a signal on the driver’s dash that says when one is low on air and could affect vehicle handling.

Those who can operate an air pump will have no problem topping off one or more low tires with the correct amount of air pressure. Others should stop by a local tire shop where free inspections usually include ensuring each tire is inflated properly. Here are some commonly provided tire shop services that will help to keep your vehicle in top shape.

A closeup shows a woman putting air in the tire of her white car.

Balance and Rotation Service Ensures Longest Tire Life

The most basic form of tire and wheel maintenance is the balance and rotation service, which generally should happen about every 5,000 miles. Because they change direction to enable you to steer the vehicle where you want it to go, the tires on the front wheels wear out faster than the tires on the rear wheels. They also tend to suffer more road damage from lateral forces and objects in the roadway. Rotating the wheels from front to back helps to even out the wear and tear on all four tires and deliver the longest tire life.

During the balance and rotation service, a technician will remove all four wheels and inspect each tire for damage, unusual tread wear, and tread depth. When everything is fine, a high-speed wheel balance will ensure that it rolls smoothly when reinstalled. Once all four wheels and tires are inspected and balanced, the front wheels are rotated to the rear and the rear wheels to the front.

If something is wrong with any of the tires, such as a nail in the tire, the technician will be able to either plug the tire or replace it with a new one. Replacing one tire might require replacement of two or even all four tires if your vehicle has an all-wheel drive or 4X4 drivetrain in order to ensure that the axles rotate at the same speeds. Not doing this can reduce your traction and performance when all-wheel drive is engaged or even damage the transfer case.

Seasonal Tire Changes Ensure the Best Traction

Illinois delivers four seasons of weather. When the winter weather approaches, vehicles benefit from a change to snow tires. Snow tires are made from a softer rubber compound than all-season tires and possess a deeper tread designed for ice and snow. These design features will help your car to get through snow and slush more easily while maintaining traction on even the coldest of days.

Likewise, when the springtime thaw comes, and you want better traction and performance in hot summer weather, a change back to all-season or summer tires is in order. All-season radials will have a harder compound and tread designed for better performance. That makes it a lot easier for your car to maintain traction on wet or dry roads and ensure the best handling.

Four tires are shown with the left two having a summer background and the right two having a winter background.

Common Reasons for Tire Repairs

The tires on your car can suffer a wide range of damage. Potholes, curbs, and road debris all pose significant hazards that can render a tire virtually useless. Driving over a nail, broken glass, sharp stone, or similar object commonly causes tire cuts and punctures that leak air. If you have a tire puncture or cut on the tread, it often is fixable with a plug. Damage that occurs to the sidewalls, though, cannot be repaired and requires a new tire to correct.

Tread separation happens when the two or more layers that make up the tire start to separate. The tire often becomes slightly deformed, which is another issue that needs immediate attention. Running over potholes, curbs, speed bumps, or other road hazards is a common cause of tread separation. Extreme heat and lack of attention to tire pressures also can lead to badly deteriorated tires and potential tread separation. When the tread separates, the tire generally will cause the car to veer in one direction or the other and could become dangerous.

Uneven tire wear caused by a failure to regularly rotate your tires can cause your car to drift out of its lane while traveling and lead to premature wear. If you do not rotate your tires properly or have one or more wheels out of alignment, you might will wind up stranded with a flat tire or involved in an accident.

Wheel Alignment Corrects Bad Travel

Your wheels must align properly for the tires to work properly. A misalignment can cause your car to veer in one direction while traveling on a straight path. You might catch yourself counter-steering while driving down a straight roadway to compensate for an alignment problem.

If you have one or more wheels that are out of alignment, the tires can wear improperly and require early replacement.

An alignment service uses computer-guided laser precision to measure the camber, toe, and caster angles on each wheel. If they are out of spec, the alignment is off and needs correction. Sometimes, new suspension parts might be needed to replace a worn tie rod end or other parts that caused the alignment problem. The service usually takes between one and two hours, depending on the amount of work needed to correct any problems.

Once the alignment is corrected, the technician usually will balance and rotate your wheels after inspecting the tires and replacing any that are worn improperly due to the alignment problem. If your alignment problems were particularly bad, you might need four new tires to ensure the axles rotate at the correct speeds during turns and deliver even power to the roadway.

Tire Shop Services Generally Are Fast and Affordable
Ignoring your tires increases the chances of needing roadside repairs. Most tire services, including inspection, balancing, and rotation, are included with new tire purchases and are incredibly quick to do. Many tire shops provide the service free of charge to better ensure you will return when you need new tires or other wheel and tire services done. If you need your tires inspected or replaced, then stop by our service center and save yourself trouble down the road.

Posted in Tire Shop