What is the most important element in a vehicle to make it travel? Is it the engine that produces the torque that rotates the axles? Is it the battery, which keeps all the electronic components of the car﹘from the radio to the onboard computers that control the car’s safety features﹘charged and in working order? Is it the gas, which will eventually combust and act as a starting agent to the entire process?

When determining the most important factor in the vehicle’s ability to travel, Occam’s Razor suggests the simplest answers are most often correct. That would mean the tires are the most crucial element in making the car go either forward or backward. After all, put the car in neutral and push it and it will still go, the power of the engine being replaced by the power of your muscles; push the car down a hill and the power of your muscles is now replaced by the power of gravity, and yet the car still travels. For how important the tires are to maintaining the effectiveness of your vehicle as a means of getting from place to place, it’s crucial not only to care for the tires but to know when they aren’t in top shape.

Identifying a Problem

Luckily for the car owner (as well as any auto repair expert trying to identify a problem), the tires are really good at letting the driver know when something isn’t right. As a person drives their car, they can feel the contact of the tires on the road. When the car is performing well, the driver might not even think about that contact point, unless the road becomes poorly paved or littered with debris. When something is wrong, the wheels could shake, drag, or bounce, depending on the issue. 

Flat Tires

By far the most common problem encountered by drivers is the flat tire. Whether the tire is popped all of a sudden (usually thanks to a pothole or a sharp piece of debris), or the air escapes by degrees, eventually the tire will become too low to be used safely. If you suspect that a certain tire is losing air, it could be due to an imperceptible puncture or a misalignment of the tire on the axle. Regardless, it is best to monitor the tire pressure at regular intervals. 

  • Learn what the ideal PSI of the tire should be, relative to the particular model of the car you’re driving. This can be found on the information card usually stickered directly onto the body of the car on the driver’s side doorframe.
  • Unscrew the cap of the air nozzle on the tire and place a pressure gauge on top of the nozzle. The air pressure should push out the stick with hash marks on it to identify the current PSI.
  • If the PSI is low and the tire keeps needing to be filled with air, you’ll know you’re dealing with a flat tire.

Bald or Uneven Treads

The tread on the tires is crucial to maintain a proper grip on the road. The more wear there is on the tread, either to the point of baldness or simply an uneven fidelity, the harder it will be for a driver to control the car on less than ideal roads. To a bald tire, a patch of ice, sand, or water could mean a total loss of control. 

  • Often, if the tire treads are truly bald you will be able to see the difference with the naked eye. Otherwise, you can use the penny test to determine if the tread is too shallow in certain places.
  • Ideally, new tires come with treads measuring 10-11/32”. If you place a penny into the tread (with Lincoln’s head facing downward) and the penny disappears up to his nose or more, the treads are sufficiently deep. 
  • If only the top of Lincoln’s head is covered, or the head is completely visible, then the treads are too shallow and it’s time to replace the tires altogether.

Master Muffler Knows Tires

If any issues do arise with your tires, it is likely time to find an auto repair shop to get them serviced or replaced. Luckily, Master Muffler knows tires and can give you the best advice on what to do. Simply stop by for all your car repair needs and we will see your vehicle is serviced in a timely manner.