Tires are one of the most important components on any vehicle. But plenty of passenger tire myths need debunking.
Let’s bust open some of the biggest myths about passenger car and light truck tires – from spare tires to tread life to pressure requirements.
Whether you’re due for new tires or just curious how they work, this overview will give you the facts so you can make smart decisions and correct misguided friends.
1. All New Cars Come with Spare Tires
It used to be standard practice for cars to come equipped with a spare tire stored in the trunk. However, around one in three new cars today do not actually have a spare tire included from the manufacturer.
Instead of a spare, many new cars come with an emergency tire inflation kit containing tire sealant and an air compressor to temporarily seal punctures.
Other new cars come with run-flat tires, which allow you to drive up to 50 miles at slower speeds after a puncture. So don’t just assume your new car has a spare – pop the trunk or check the owner’s manual to know for sure.
2. The Digits on the Sidewall Show Tire Pressure
Some drivers mistakenly believe that the series of digits molded into the sidewall of their tires indicate the correct inflation pressure for that tire. However, the sidewall digits actually provide the tire’s size specifications and maximum inflation pressure rating, not the recommended pressure for your particular vehicle.
To find the precise inflation pressure for your tires, always check the sticker inside your driver’s side door jamb or consult the owner’s manual.
Tire pressure affects handling, braking distances, tire lifespan and gas mileage.
3. All-Season Tires Work In All Conditions
Don’t be misled by the name – all-season tires are not optimized for year-round performance in every condition. All-season tires provide decent traction across a range of conditions, similar to a Swiss Army knife. However, all-season tread rubber stiffens dramatically in freezing temperatures, reducing cold weather grip compared to winter tires.
All-seasons work best in temperate climates with mild weather, not heavy snow and ice. For extreme winter conditions, you need specialty winter tires.
4. Tire Performance Doesn’t Depend on Materials
The quality and performance of a tire depends on many complex factors, including the variety of materials used in the construction.
Modern passenger car tires contain over 200 different raw ingredients, including synthetic and natural rubber compounds, steel, nylon, silica, polyester, carbon black, petroleum oils and more.
The compounds used affect traction – softer rubber generally provides better dry grip while deeper tread grooves improve wet traction and hydroplaning resistance.
Larger tire size also equals more grip and stability through increased contact patch.
5. You Shouldn’t Drive on Flat Tires
Pneumatic tires all share a common enemy – the nail. While it is true… you should not drive on a flat tire, that may no longer be a worry. Revolutionary airless tire technology from companies like Michelin aims to eliminate flat tires and blowouts entirely.
Michelin’s Uptis airless tire replaces pressurized air with flexible thermoplastic spokes that absorb impacts. This allows Uptis to avoid typical punctures while maintaining ride comfort.
Airless technology means no more damaged sidewalls, no need for spares or tire pressure monitoring. Uptis tires could begin hitting passenger vehicles as early as 2024.
6. Passenger & Race Car Tires are Similar
If you think the tires on your Camry or F-150 resemble those on a Formula 1 or NASCAR race car, think again. High performance racing tires are engineered for maximum grip, speed and durability – not comfort, low noise or long mileage like passenger tires.
For example, F1 tires have minimal tread, extremely stiff sidewalls and only last a few races before needing replacement.
The differences between race car and standard passenger car tires are vast.
7. EVs Don’t Need Special Tires
Believe it or not, Tesla and other electric vehicles require specialized tires developed specifically for their unique characteristics. The heavy battery packs in EVs mean more vehicle weight pressing down on tires. EVs also deliver instantaneous maximum torque to the wheels, increasing tire wear.
Plus EVs prioritize efficiency, mileage range and quiet operation. For these reasons, EV-specific tires have stiffer sidewalls, advanced compounds and foam sound insulation not found in regular passenger tires.
Now you know the real story when it comes to some of the biggest tire myths. With the right facts, you can make informed decisions about your car’s rubber shoes.
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Martha A. Lavallie
Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.