Thurston Car Talk: Tire And Alignment


Submitted by Bron at Bron’s Automotive

Now that winter is around the corner, it seems like a good time to talk about tire and alignment issues.  Tires that are getting thin on tread life might be fine on dry pavement, but will be dangerous on the freeway in rain, especially when there are ruts worn in the pavement where water can collect. At higher speeds the tire can hydroplane and cause a loss of control.  Look at your tires and find the wear bars, (wear bars are rubber in the groove that is raised 2/32 of an inch above the bottom of the groove and becomes flush with the tread surface when tread depth is down to 2/32 of an inch.). If the wear bars are close to the surface of the tread, replace the tires before the rains come .

Look at the tread surface and see if the wear is even across the surface. Tires that are worn on both edges worse than the center got that way from being underinflated.  Tires worn worse in the center than the edges have been run overinflated.

Other than these two examples, uneven wear is a sign of poor alignment.  An alignment is also indicated if the car pulls to one side.  A common misconception is that if tires vibrate on the freeway, an alignment is needed. This is untrue.  Vibration that gets worse the faster you drive is almost always a tire or tires out of balance.

Your vehicles wheels will generally stay in alignment for a fair amount of time.  I typically have an alignment done when I purchase new tires.  I also have the alignment checked if I hit a curb hard or hit an especially bad pothole.

Any time the steering wheel becomes off center after hitting something while driving straight down the road, means an alignment must be performed or rapid tire wear will result.

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