We know tires are not one of the most exciting parts of your car. Think about the last time you bought a new (or new-to-you) car. We’re going to guess that none of your friends’ first reaction was “What kind of tires are on your car?” Tires may not be exciting, but they are important. Your tires are your first line of traction when our roads get wet and snowy, so it’s best to at least have some basic knowledge of tires—and not just the myths about tires that get passed around, like these four common tire myths we’ve heard:
You should inflate your tires based on the number on the tire
A common misperception—very, very common—is that you should inflate your tires to the tire pressure listed on the tire. Not true! The proper PSI (pounds per square inch-tire pressure) is in your car’s owner manual or on a decal on the bottom of your door frame on the driver’s side. The tire pressure listed on your tire is the maximum tire pressure. Overinflating your tires, or under inflating your tires, can lead to increased stopping distance when you need it the most so make sure you know the proper tire pressure your tires that should be at.
Two new tires should go on the front
No! Surprising, isn’t it? If you only buy two new tires, have your mechanic mount them and put them on the back of your vehicle—not the front. You need the tires on the back of your vehicle for stability, no matter what kind of vehicle you own and whether it’s front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel drive, everything.
Vehicles with traction control don’t need snow tires
Traction control is not a replacement for snow tires; traction control adjusts the speed of your tires to conditions, but does not give your vehicle more traction to get through the snow. Really the best remedy for getting through the snow this winter is snow tires. Snow tires are specially designed to handle all the snow that our Wisconsin winters dump on the roads. Constructed with a softer compound and tread pattern designed specifically for getting through winter precipitation, snow tires can dig down and find traction on even the roughest roads. They give you the security and traction you need to take on the next polar vortex—and all the snow that comes with it.
My TPMS tells me when my tires are low
You can’t check tire pressure by looking at them; some tires may be down 5 pounds of air pressure and you can’t tell! In the same way, you can’t trust your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to tell you when your tires are low. Your TPMS warning light on your dash doesn’t come on until your tires are 20% (sometimes more than that) below pressure. By that time, your tire pressure is dangerously low—and dangerous to drive on. The best way to check your tire pressure is by using a tire pressure gauge periodically, or by asking your mechanic to check your tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Don’t forget to check your spare tire, in addition to all four tires. Here’s how you check your tire pressure:
- Get a tire pressure gauge like the one in the picture. (We’ve also found this great video as a reference.)
- Remove the cap from the tire stem. (The tire stem is a small rubber piece sticking up from your tire.)
- Insert the tire pressure gauge into the tire stem. You will feel the gauge fit in there correctly. (If you have a gauge with a knob for deflation, you will know if you are using the right end if you DON’T hear air escaping.)
- The end of your tire pressure gauge will register a number electronically or the white numbers will rise at the other end of the tire pressure gauge.
Have any more questions about tires? Go to the source. Contact us for information about your tires, so you don’t have to make guesses at all the wrong times, like when your car is sliding into a ditch.