The Car Coach: Tires myths
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Tires are arguably the most important component of your vehicle. They are, however, among the least understood features. There are many myths when it comes to your tires. Here are just a few.
Myth 1: The tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) in my new car ensures that my tires are adequately inflated.
Truth: TPMS isn't required to issue a low tire-pressure warning until pressure is 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation. That's well below the pressure required for safe driving and barely adequate to carry the vehicle's maximum load. TPMS is intended as a last-minute warning before imminent tire failure, not as a monitor to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Buy a quality digital tire pressure gauge and check your tire pressure at least once a month, matching the gauge with the proper tire pressure located inside the driver's door jamb.
Myth 2: When replacing only two tires, the new ones go on the front.
The truth: Rear tires provide stability, and without stability, steering or braking on a wet or even damp surface might cause a spin. Whether you own a front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive car, truck, or SUV, the tires with the most tread go on the rear.
Myth 3. A tire is in danger of bursting if pressure exceeds the "max press" number on the sidewall.
Truth: The "max press" number has nothing to do with a tire's burst pressure. The "max press" and "max load" numbers indicate the pressure at which the tire will carry the maximum amount of weight. A new, quality tire will not pop at even a multiple of the "max press."
Myth 4: All-season tires are so good that winter tires are never needed.
Truth: In some parts of the country, this may be true, but if you live in the northernmost states or in Canada, the traction provided by winter tires can't be beat. Winter tires reign supreme in rural areas where snow remains on the road for days. They provide 25-percent-improved traction in deep snow over all-season tires. Metal-studded tires deliver up to 40 percent greater traction on hard-packed snow and ice over all-season tires, but many locales have restrictions regarding the use of studs.
Myth 5: Before you buy a car, kick the tires.
Truth: It might not tell you much about the vehicle or its tires, but it could tell you whether your shoe padding is adequate.