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Let's debunk the following 9 tire safety myths.

Having TPMS means I do not have to check my air pressure unless the warning light comes on.

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is designed to provide a warning of low tire pressure in order to avoid tire failure. It will not monitor and sustain the recommended air pressure. In fact, the TPMS warning light is not required to come on until the air pressure is 25% below the vehicle’s recommended air pressure. This means that you still have to periodically check the pressure with a reliable gauge.

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The new tires should go on the front of the vehicle when replacing only two tires.

It is actually much safer to install the new tires on the rear of the vehicle. Installing the new tires on the front axle provides less hydroplane resistance, and actually makes the vehicle more susceptible to a driving condition called oversteer. Installing the new tires on the rear means the front tires will hydroplane before the rear tires, causing understeer, which is much easier to correct than oversteer.

The tire sidewall provides the recommended air pressure.

The air pressure listed on the tire’s sidewall is actually the maximum air pressure at which the tire can be safely operated for the maximum load of the tire. The recommended air pressure is determined by the vehicle manufacturer for all original equipment specifications, and can typically be found in the owner’s manual or door placard.

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Low-profile tires and large diameter wheels improve the vehicle’s handling.

While having a low-profile tire with a large diameter wheel may improve steering response by reducing sidewall flex, it doesn’t ultimately provide improved handling. The tread design, rubber compound, and vehicle suspension play the greatest role in handling performance.

All tires with the same size designation have exactly the same dimensions.

It is common for tires to vary slightly in size from brand to brand, even if they are both the same size. In fact, tires may even vary by size within the same brand, from model to model. This is important when it comes to tire mixing or staggered setups.

You can tell if a tire is low by looking at it or kicking it.

The only way to accurately check the air pressure is with an air pressure gauge. Visually inspecting and or kicking the tires may lead you to believe that the tires are properly inflated, but they may potentially be low.

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Repairing a tire with a plug or an injected sealant is a safe way to repair tires.

While these methods may provide temporary protection, they’re not the safest option. The best way to repair a tire is to fill the hole with a solid rubber filler and vulcanize a patch to the inner liner, effectively sealing the hole and repairing the liner at the same time. This process helps to ensure that the tire maintains the proper air pressure and keeps moisture and debris from making its way into the hole, which can cause further damage.

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If the tire has enough tread, it is safe to put into service.

Although tread depth is very important when it comes to tire safety, it is by no means the only consideration. Several other variables can compromise your tire’s performance, such as the age of the tire. Tires should be replaced when they are six years old. Exposure to heat and ultraviolet rays can cause weathering, which in excess can damage the structural integrity of the tire.

All-season tires have better wet grip than summer tires.

Summer tires have a more compliant rubber compound for better grip and wide tread voids to evacuate water from the contact patch rapidly. On the other hand, because summer tires are optimized for wet and dry performance, they should not be used for winter or snow driving under any circumstance.

As ambient temperatures get colder, typically in the 40-45° F range, summer performance tires lose a noticeable percentage of traction as their tread compound rubber properties change from a pliable elastic to inflexible plastic. In addition, if ambient temperatures drop to near- or below-freezing, driving or rolling a vehicle equipped with summer performance tires risks the possibility of tread compound cracking. Tread compound cracking is a permanent condition that requires the tires to be replaced. The other condition that can be caused by running summer performance tires in cold temperatures is the possibility of chipping away the edges of the tread blocks.

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