The onset of fall typically brings with it a dramatic shift in weather conditions, exchanging the hazy blue skies and intense sunshine of summer with cooler temperatures and an increased amount of rain.
The presence of summer brings with it the potential for a variety of problems such as blowouts and other forms of tire degradation caused by high temperatures. But these warm and dry road conditions rarely provide any difficulty from a traction and grip point of view, with the absence of rainfall providing for road surfaces with maximum traction.
Fall on the other hand presents a different set of problems, with the presence of rain creating a variety of hazards that can make continuing to use tires that are in poor condition ill-advised at best and dangerous at worst.
If your tires are nearing the end of their useful life, you should begin planning their replacement so that you can head into fall with the confidence that your tires won’t be the weak leak in your vehicles performance.
Improved stopping distances
Rather than just your brakes, the tires fitted to your vehicle are directly responsible for bringing your vehicle to a stop in a safe and controlled manner. In addition, the condition of your tires also has a direct impact on your ability to stop within a reasonable distance.
- On average, the difference in stopping distances between a budget and premium tire have been shown to be around 5 meters (16 feet) in the dry and 14 meters (46 feet) in the wet when braking from 70 mph.
In wet weather, this performance differential is exacerbated with worn tires requiring an increase of more than 60% additional road length to bring a vehicle to a halt than brand new tires with the maximum amount of tread available.
- As a general rule of thumb, cars will take twice as long to stop on wet asphalt than they would on dry asphalt. At 40 mph, this is the difference between stopping in 5 car lengths or 10 car lengths.
We are often required to perform emergency braking procedures on a daily basis, and in wet weather, your tires will be the difference between stopping in time for the obstacle you are trying to avoid and experiencing a collision.
Improved hydroplaning resistance
Hydroplaning occurs when the contact patch of your tires loses contact with the road surface, essentially causing your vehicle to float across the asphalt and experience a loss of traction in addition to reducing braking ability and causing the inability to steer effectively.
Road tires are manufactured with tread blocks for this very reason, as the tread situated across the width of your tire is responsible for displacing surface water and ensuring that your tires remain in contact with the road at all times.
- Tires with sufficient tread remaining are capable of displacing the equivalent of a bucket of water every seven seconds.
The less tread that you have remaining, the more prone your vehicle will be to hydroplaning when driving through large bodies of standing water at speed. If your tires are reaching their wear markers (2/32 inch of tread remaining), consider replacing them as soon as possible.
Improved vehicle handling
Driving in a straight line isn’t the only important aspect of a tires performance. Navigating winding roads in wet conditions can be just as dangerous as having to come to a halt after braking on the highway.
Cornering heavily or at speed on dry tarmac produces a considerable amount of lateral force that doesn’t present too much of a challenge to most tires. In the wet, these performance characteristics change dramatically, requiring far less speed or lateral force to cause the tire to lose grip mid bend.
As with other driving scenarios, the condition of your tires is the main factor in your vehicles road holding ability with newer tires offering much more grip before they eventually succumb to the laws of physics.
Having to brake heavily whilst also steering at the same time presents your tires with the ultimate challenge, a challenge that they can only perform well when at their best.
Replace your old and worn tires
Driving on a new set of tires will allow your vehicle to access all of its performance capabilities when required. This includes the ability to accelerate strongly to escape hazardous situations, the ability to steer around obstacles and hazards in the road and the ability to come to a complete stop as quickly as possible.
The choice of tires available to you is extensive, with each tire manufacturer producing a range of tires that are a perfect fit for a variety of terrains and usage profiles.
Whether you decide to proceed with an ultra-high performance tire, an all-season tire or a touring based tire, make sure that you replace your old tires before they become a weak point.