This post highlights some of the major causes of tyre failure and how we can prevent them.
TIRE FAILURES CAUSED BY UNDERINFLATION
One of the most common causes of tire failure is under-inflation. Tires that are underinflated experience excessive flexing in the sidewalls which causes them to run dangerously hot, especially at highway speeds during hot weather. The build-up of heat can lead to tread separation or a sudden blowout. The underlying cause here may be lack of maintenance (not checking the inflation pressure of the tires regularly) or a slow leak that has allowed the tire to lose air.
The main responsibility for preventing this type of failure is squarely on the shoulders of the vehicle owner. But many people seldom if ever check their tires. That’s why all 2008 and newer vehicles now have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems to alert the driver if a tire is low.
Check tire inflation pressures when the tires are cold. Add air as needed to maintain the recommended pressure.
TIRE FAILURES CAUSED BY OVERINFLATION
Overinflating tires increases ride harshness and may increase a tire’s vulnerability to damage caused by potholes and curbs. Over-inflation occurs when somebody adds air to a tire until it “looks full” or doesn’t use an accurate tire gauge. Or, the person may be attempting to reduce rolling resistance for better fuel economy by adding extra air. Never exceed the maximum pressure rating on the side of the tire.
TIRE FAILURES CAUSED BY OVERLOADING
Overloading a vehicle or driving on tires that do not meet the load rating requirements for the application is asking for trouble. This is more of an issue with pickup trucks, vans and SUVs than it is passenger cars, especially those that may be used as utility vehicles to haul building materials or other unusually heavy loads.
The best way to prevent this kind of failure is to check the load rating of the tires and make sure they match the application. If they do not, recommend upgrading to a tire with a higher load rating.
TIRE FAILURES CAUSED BY IMPACT/ROAD HAZARDS
Most motorists will try to avoid really bad potholes, debris on the road and curbs, but sometimes these hazards are unavoidable and cut, puncture or damage a tire. If the damage does not cause the tire to go immediately flat, it may weaken the tire and cause it to fail later or under high speed/load/temperature conditions. Ultra low profile tires are especially vulnerable to sidewall damage when hitting curbs or potholes because of the narrow distance between the tread and rim.
TIRE FAILURES CAUSED BY WEAR
All tires wear as they accumulate mileage, and eventually they wear out. Tires have wear bars (flat spots) in the tread grooves to visually indicate wear. If the tread is worn down so the wear bars are flush with the surrounding tread, the tire is worn out and needs to be replaced. If you see cords showing through the rubber, the tire is unsafe to drive on and is on the verge of failure. Replace the tire without delay! The same advice goes for any tire that has bulges, deep cracks or the tread is separating from the casing.
TIRE FAILURES CAUSED BY OLD TIRES
Tires do not last forever, even if the tread shows little visible wear. As rubber ages, it loses elasticity, hardens and can become brittle. The reinforcing cords inside a tire can also deteriorate and lose strength. This increases the risk of a sudden tire failure the older a tire gets. After six years, the risk of failure goes up sharply. Because of this, many safety experts say tires that are more than six years old have expired and should be replaced regardless of how much tread is left on the tires.