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What you need to know about tires

The Truth About Common Tire Myths
from Bridgestone Tire

Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman and the Loch Ness Monster are all harmless myths. But there are stories on one subject that are passed on from generation to generation that should be put to rest, according to Dave Laubie, Bridgestone/Firestone director of sales engineering — tire myths.

"It's unfortunate that so much incorrect information about tires and tire care still persists," Laubie said. "Tire manufacturers, industry associations and tire dealers have worked hard to get the proper information out to consumers. Unfortunately, many people still rely on family 'experts' for advice.

"The result of these myths is dissatisfaction with the tires, the tire manufacturer and the dealer that sold the tires." Laubie said. "But proper tire maintenance is still the responsibility of the driver." Improperly maintained tires can lead to problems and, at the very least, a shortened tire life.

In an effort to separate fact from fiction, Laubie and his team of engineers at Bridgestone have prepared a list of common tire myths, as well as their corresponding tire facts.

MYTH: The best air pressure for a tire is on the tire's sidewall.

FACT: The air pressure indicated on the sidewall of the tire is the recommended maximum air pressure for that particular tire at a specified load, not necessarily the air pressure for the tire on your vehicle. Automobiles and tires are designed to work together to provide the best balance of handling, traction, comfort and braking characteristics. Unless you've changed tire size and type, the proper air pressure for your vehicle and tire combination may be found in your car's owner's manual, on a sticker in the glovebox or affixed to the door jamb.

MYTH: All-season radial tires are good substitutes for snow tires.

FACT: It depends. In general, all-season tires are the best tires for year-round usage. However, if you live in an area that receives little plowing or heavy snow, you should consider switching to a snow tire during the winter.

MYTH: You can drive as fast and as long on a temporary or compact spare tire as you can on a regular tire.

FACT: Temporary or compact spare tires are designed to allow you to get to the nearest tire dealer or service center for the repair or replacement of your flat tire. Temporary spares aren't designed for long-term use. The temporary spare should be replaced by a regular size spare tire as soon as possible. Follow your vehicle's owner's manual for proper usage of temporary tires.

MYTH: I don't need snow tires on my four-wheel-drive vehicle.

FACT: A four-wheel-drive vehicle with all-season tires usually is better in the snow than a two-wheel-drive vehicle with all-seasons tires. However most vehicles will perform better in the snow with snow tires rather than with all-season tires. Remember: four-wheel-drive vehicles are great to get you going in the snow, but they are no better than two-wheel-drive vehicles at stopping or turning on snowy or icy surfaces.

MYTH: The Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) rating is directly related to mileage for all tire manufacturers.

FACT: The treadwear or mileage portion of UTQG is an indicator within that brand of tires. It's not a good indicator between brands of tires because of the broad interpretation of the standard.

MYTH: Uneven wear on a tire means that the tire is defective or that there are broken components within the tire.

FACT: Uneven wear can result from many causes, most commonly improper inflation pressure for the load being carried, lack of rotation at recommended intervals and mechanical conditions, such as worn or damaged suspension parts and poor wheel alignment. In rare instances, it can indicate a problem within the tire structure. In all cases, tires exhibiting uneven wear should be examined by an authorized tire service person so that the cause can be corrected.

MYTH: A vehicle ride disturbance or vibration is caused by tires.

FACT: A vibration felt when the vehicle is in motion is the result of a rotating component being out of balance, loose or excessively worn. The tires are only one of many components in a vehicle. Other causes of vibration may include wheels, brake rotors or drums, driveshafts, tie rods, ball joints and CV joints. In the event the tire is wearing irregularly, a vibration or increase in the tires' noise level may occur.

MYTH: My tire is covered by my vehicle manufacturer's warranty, including punctures and cuts.

FACT: Tire manufacturers' warranties cover workmanship and materials on the tires. Your vehicle's coverage does not include tires. The tire manufacturers' warranties do not cover use-related damages such as cuts, nail holes or impacts. However, some tire retailers do sell road hazard warranties at the time of a new replacement tire purchase, which can cover these types of problems. These warranties generally are not offered by the manufacturer, but by the individual tire dealer.

MYTH: As long as I have tread remaining on my tires, they are safe to use regardless of how old they may be.

FACT: Rubber — the main component in tires — deteriorates with age and exposure to the elements, like heat sources, sunlight and the ozone. It therefore virtually is impossible to put an age limit on a tire. However, if the tire appears weather-cracked and old, it probably is, and should be taken in for evaluation by a professional.

MYTH: My tire just blew out for no reason; it must be defective.

FACT: In most circumstances, the source of air loss is something cutting, puncturing or bursting the tread or sidewall of a tire.

MYTH: It's acceptable to mix different types or sizes of car tires.

FACT: Some combinations are acceptable; some are not. To determine acceptable combinations, follow your vehicle's owner's manual or consult a qualified tire service person.

Source: Bridgestone