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Category Archives: Tires and Wheels

St. Louis Tire Repair

Most St. Louis motorists have experienced a flat tire. You know it’s inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn’t just a big safety issue for Missouri drivers – it also has a financial impact. With high St. Louis gas prices, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to get the best possible MPG. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer. 

There’s another danger to under-inflated tires for St. Louis drivers. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don’t just keep airing them up every few days. You want to avoid pricey tire damage.

Tires can also be damaged by road hazards in and around St. Louis. Punctures, cuts and unfortunate encounters with curbs or potholes can also cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Sometimes, it’s something that an inspection would reveal. Try to remember to check your tires when you’re pumping fuel. Look for slashes, missing chunks, nails or screws in the tread or just uneven wear. Of course check the air pressure too.

Now tire damage can be on the inside where St. Louis motorists can’t see it until it’s removed from the wheel. Such damage could come from a severe impact, driving on a flat around St. Louis or even just low pressure. Some punctures can cause internal damage that is too extreme to be repaired. You may see our St. Louis BDG tire professionals take the time to remove your flat from the rim and inspect the inside before repairing it, which means we’re just following best practices.

Of course, some tires just can’t be repaired at your St. Louis service center or St. Louis BDG. A puncture may be too large to plug. Also, the puncture could be in a location that’s not safe to repair like in the sidewall or outer portion of the tread. So called run-flat tires should not be repaired because their design is such that internal damage can’t be detected by a visual inspection by your honest St. Louis BDG service specialist.

St. Louis motorists should only hire qualified tire professionals to perform repairs – we have a whole team of them at St. Louis BDG. St. Louis folks can buy self repair kits, but we advise you to save those for emergencies, like when you’re off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to St. Louis civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it’s a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.

Here are some other considerations: A DIY flat repair may void your tire manufacturer’s warranty – just something to keep in mind. Also, if you repair a speed rated tire, you should not use it in any motorsports or operate it above legal speed limits. Your honest St. Louis BDG tire specialist will repair your tire whenever it’s safe to do so and he’ll advise you when it’s better to replace it. So watch those curbs and keep the air – on the inside.

St. Louis BDG
1665 Scherer Pkwy.
St. Louis, Missouri 63303
636-946-5900

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

Treat Your Vehicle to Good Tires at St. Louis BDG

When we shop for shoes, most of us know that we can get two pairs of cheap shoes or one good pair for about the same price. And since the two cheap pairs wear out in about the same time as the good pair, there really is no difference in cost. If you like having a closet full of shoes to match your moods and outfits, then cheap shoes can be what you want. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet, you probably know that cheap shoes can come with an added cost of sore feet and other foot ailments. When you add in the benefits of comfort and protection, the more expensive shoes are actually the better value.

Buying tires at St. Louis BDG in St. Louis is a lot like buying shoes, except that St. Louis motorists’ vehicles don’t have changeable apparel and don’t need a closet full of tires to match. Vehicles spend a lot of time on their tires—all the time, in fact—so they need tires that can stand up to the job. Tires are work shoes: they have to deal with a lot of Missouri road conditions, all while carrying the weight of a vehicle and its passengers.

Bad tires, like cheap shoes, can also be a safety concern for St. Louis area drivers. Tires need good traction, and they need to be strong enough to handle the loads they carry. Vehicles that carry heavy loads or tow trailers around St. Louis need tires with a high load rating, in the same way that you are better off on a rough Missouri mountain trail with sturdy hiking boots rather than flip-flops.

The best tires on the market are called Tier 1 tires. These are high-quality tires engineered to stand up to a lot of wear while maintaining good traction. They are also the most expensive tires on the St. Louis area tire market, although prices don’t vary much from brand to brand.

Tire chain stores in St. Louis often carry tires with their own brand name. These are private label tires. They are less expensive than Tier 1 tires, but are still a quality product. In fact, many private label tires sold in St. Louis are manufactured by the same companies that make Tier 1 tires. Don’t hesitate to ask your St. Louis BDG tire professional who makes their private brand.

The cheapest tires on the Missouri tire market are Tier 3 tires. Most of these tires are imported from Asia or South America, and they just don’t have the same standard of engineering behind them that the higher-priced tires have. When it comes to Tier 3 tires, St. Louis folks get what they pay for.

At St. Louis BDG, we sometimes express tire quality in terms of the warranty. In other words, we call a tire a “40-thousand-mile tire,” or a “60-thousand mile tire.” This refers to the number of miles a tire will be under warranty. Tires with a higher mileage warranty are made with higher quality rubber compounds and have more tread. As you might expect, they also cost more than tires with low mileage warranties.

Cheap tires often have no warranty at all. However, if you find yourself in a position where you need new tires and you’re really strapped for cash, purchasing Tier 3 tires is better than waiting until you can afford Tier 1. It’s always better for St. Louis drivers to drive on new tires, even cheap ones, than driving on tires that are worn past their safety limits.

That said, if you’re driving on Tier 3 tires, it’s a good idea to budget and plan to buy higher-quality tires the next go-around. Two sets of cheap tires may wear out in the same time as one set of quality tires, but the quality tires actually cost less than two sets of cheap tires. That’s the great fallacy of cheap tires. In the long run, they actually cost more than good tires, and come with significantly reduced performance and durability to boot. Not exactly the best value for St. Louis drivers.

So, some good auto advice for St. Louis car owners would be to always buy as much tire as you can afford. That way you’ll get the most durability and performance and the most mileage out of every tire. Plus, with a better tire, there’s some peace of mind that comes with knowing you won’t have to purchase tires as often.

Good car care requires checking your tires occasionally for tread wear and road damage. Practicing this preventive maintenance can help you avoid flats and blowouts.

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

Keep Your Tires Well Rounded in St. Louis: Tire Rotation and Wheel Balancing at St. Louis BDG

Taking care of our tires is an important part of car care for St. Louis drivers. We know they have to be replaced when they wear out, but tires also require some critical preventive maintenance. This maintenance will improve gas mileage and extend the life of the tires, so it’s well worth the effort and expense for St. Louis drivers to get it done. Tire maintenance includes keeping tires properly inflated, rotating tires and balancing wheels.

The recommended tire pressure for a vehicle’s tires is printed on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s side doorjamb. A lot of engineering goes into calculating the correct pressure, so it’s an essential number for St. Louis auto owners to know. Not following this recommendation can throw off the suspension system and can lead to expensive tire damage. Underinflated tires wear out more quickly than properly inflated tires. Vehicles also get better traction, handling and fuel economy on properly inflated tires. Check your tire pressure at least once a week and add air if necessary.

Don’t be tempted to add a bit of extra air to your tires when you fill them. Overinflated tires will cause the center tread to wear unevenly because of improper contact with the road. It will also cut down the handling performance of your vehicle.

Rotating tires allows all four tires on a vehicle to wear evenly. Front tires get more wear than rear tires because they do most of the work on turns. Tire rotation allows all of the tires to spend time on the front of the car so they all experience the extra wear.

For most vehicles, tire rotation is simply a matter of moving the front tires to the rear and vice versa. Some vehicles, however, recommend a cross-rotational pattern. Other vehicles use asymmetrical tires, which means the right tires have to stay on the right side of the car and the left tires on the left. Some vehicles use differently sized wheels on the front and back of the car and should not have their tires rotated.

What kind of rotation do you need? Check your owner’s manual or talk to your honest St. Louis BDG service advisor. Your owner’s manual will have information about how to rotate your vehicle’s tires as well as letting you know how often you should get it done. For most vehicles, that’s usually every 5,000 miles. Your honest St. Louis BDG service specialist can also offer auto advice about tire rotation. A quick tire inspection can also indicate whether or not your tires are due to be rotated.

When it comes to tire maintenance for St. Louis drivers, wheel balancing is usually what we know least about. Balancing a wheel is necessary to keep it in constant contact with the road. If a tire is not balanced properly, it actually hops along the roadway. You can feel this hopping as a vibration in your steering wheel if the unbalanced tire is a front tire. You’ll feel the vibration through your seat if a rear tire is unbalance. Properly balancing your tires is critical and will extend their life span, improve handling and improve the safety of your vehicle. When you replace your tires, the new tires need to be balanced.

Never use different sized tires on the same axle of a vehicle. In other words, your front tires need to be the same size and your rear tires need to be the same size. Mixing sizes can lead to some serious handling problems for St. Louis motorists.

If you have an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle all four tires need to be the same size. If your tires are wearing out, you can sometimes make a new tire purchase fit within your budget by only buying two tires at a time. When you do this, the new tires should be installed on the rear of the vehicle. Rear tires are more in need of the traction than your front tires to avoid spinning out on slippery surfaces. If you drive a vehicle around St. Louis, you need tires, so St. Louis motorists need to know how to care for them. The safety of your sedan can depend on the condition of your tires.

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

Under Pressure in St. Louis: TPMS

Have you noticed an increase in price when you get a flat fixed in St. Louis or your tires rotated? It might be the result of your TPMS, or Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

The federal government began requiring a TPMS system on 2008 model year passenger vehicles and light trucks. Some 2006 and 2007 models may have them as well. The system has a warning light that is mounted on the dashboard that will go on if one of the tires becomes severely under inflated.

Why the new requirement? Because underinflated tires are the number one cause of tire failure. Tire blowouts cause harmful and sometimes fatal accidents. Underinflated tires also need longer stopping distance and can skid, both of which also present dangers on Missouri roads. Many flat tires can also be prevented by proper tire inflation, and though this may seem an economic consideration, St. Louis drivers who have changed a flat on the side of the road recognize that this has serious safety concerns as well.

Advances in tire technology, specifically the development of radial tires has made it harder for St. Louis auto owners to recognize when a tire is underinflated. At a recommended pressure of 35 psi, a tire is seriously underinflated at 26 psi. But the tire doesn’t look low on air until it reaches 20 psi. This raises concerns about vehicle owners being able to tell when their sedans are a safety hazard on the road. Hence, the TPMS.

So, like seatbelts, the vital TPMS system is expected to save a lot of lives. The technology has been in use in race cars for years, and now it’s being mandated for all passenger cars, SUV’s, mini-vans and pick-ups. Besides warning St. Louis drivers when their tires need air, the system is required to indicate when it is malfunctioning.

This increased safety won’t come without increased costs to St. Louis drivers. Estimates regarding the cost of maintaining the TPMS on your vehicle run from $27 to $100. Also, there will be an added cost for tire repair. St. Louis service centers have had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with TPMS sensors and other vital equipment to repair tires and wheels equipped with TPMS. St. Louis BDG service advisors have to be trained to use the new equipment. These costs will have to be passed on to St. Louis motorists.

Further, whenever a tire is changed, the St. Louis BDG technician will have to deal with the TPMS. Sensors will have to removed, then re-installed and re-activated. Sometimes the act of changing a tire will damage a sensor, and it will need to be replaced. These extra services will come at an added charge to St. Louis car owners.

Tire rotations will require that the TPMS be re-programmed. And whenever a vehicle’s battery is disconnected, the TPMS will require re-programming as well.

The TPMS itself will require attention – it contains batteries and sensors that will wear out and need to be replaced.

So, if you’ve noticed an increase in the cost for car care at your St. Louis tire center, it may not be the economy. It could be the cost of the TPMS in newer vehicles. Before you dash off an angry letter to Congress, however, stop and consider what you’re paying for. If predictions are correct, the TPMS will save lives, and that will be a benefit to all of us.

Of course, no warning system will save lives in St. Louis if auto owners don’t pay attention to it. And remember that the warning doesn’t come on until the tire is severely under inflated – you still should check your tire pressure at least once a month. St. Louis motorists can prevent accidents and potentially save lives without a warning system by keeping their tires properly inflated.

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

Below 45 Degrees in St. Louis: Consider Winter Tires

Remember snow tires? They were basically just regular tires with big, knobby lugs to get them through deep snow. They were loud and rode hard, and St. Louis drivers couldn’t wait to get them off the car. Then along came television advertisements for “all-season” radials. Missouri motorists ran out and bought some and we thought we were done with snow tires forever.

Tires have come a long way since then. Modern winter tires sold in the St. Louis area are much better designed for the wide range of dangerous conditions that come with Missouri winter weather. They are made with a rubber compound that helps them stay flexible in cold weather. Regular tires become hard and stiff at St. Louis temperatures below 45°F, which reduces their traction. That’s a critical concern in winter, especially with snowy or wet St. Louis conditions. But it also means that St. Louis auto owners are better off with winter tires in cold weather even when it’s dry.

The tread design on winter tires has been improved to actually move snow, slush and water. The lugs and grooves actually throw packed snow out of the tread as the tire rotates. This means the tread is open and ready to move more snow when it rolls around again. Summer tires can actually pack up with snow, which makes them more dangerous than a bald tire.

Many winter tires use a micro-pore compound that lets the tire bite into ice and snow. They have wider grooves around the tire that help expel snow. They have a rounder casing to better cut into the surface of snow. Modern winter tires available at Missouri tire shops also have sipes, or thin slits cut into the tread. The edges of these sipes can grab ice and snow so that the tire retains traction on almost any surface. The sipes also help to expel water and slush from the tread. In short, a lot of time and engineering has gone into improving winter tires.

The all-season tire that is popular among St. Louis drivers is actually a compromise between summer and winter performance. This means they give adequate performance for St. Louis car owners in either season, but aren’t great in either. Summer tires give great performance in hot weather, but lousy performance in winter. St. Louis auto owners need to put more thought into their tire choices these days, but that also means they get a lot better performance for their money.

If you want the performance that new winter tires can give you, you should have them properly installed at your St. Louis service center or St. Louis BDG. It’s best to purchase four snow tires and put them on all the wheels of your vehicle. But if you only want two, you need to put them on the rear of your vehicle, even if you drive a front-wheel drive vehicle. St. Louis drivers always want to put the tires with the best traction on the rear of the vehicle.

Imagine this: You take a corner on an icy St. Louis road and your rear end starts to slide. What happened is that the front end slowed for the turn, but the rear end hasn’t figured that out yet. If you have high-traction tires on the front of your vehicle, that makes the problem worse. You’re slowing the front end faster and harder, which makes the back end fishtail even more.

Putting the higher traction tires on the rear will give St. Louis auto owners more control for turns, regardless of the type of vehicle driven. Of course, that makes putting high-traction tires on all of your wheels even smarter. Why not give all of your tires the best traction they can get? Some St. Louis assume that four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles only need winter tires on two wheels. Why? Doesn’t it make sense to give all four wheels the same level of traction and control? Four-wheel or all-wheel drive cannot compensate for poor traction.

Another false assumption held by many St. Louis auto owners is that if you have traction control and anti-lock brakes, you won’t need winter tires. Traction is vital for good acceleration, steering and stopping. And tires provide traction. Traction control and anti-lock brakes can only improve on that traction. The better the traction, the better the traction control and anti-lock brakes will work. In other words, the better the tires, the better those systems will work for St. Louis car owners.

A Canadian law requires all passenger vehicles, rental cars and taxis registered in Quebec to have winter tires on all four wheels from November 15th until April 1st.

If you’re shopping for winter tires and live where there is a lot of snow in Missouri, look for a mountain with a snowflake in it molded into the tire’s sidewall. This symbol means the tire complies with severe snow standards. All-season tires have an M&S stamped on the sidewall. M&S stands for mud and snow.

For more essential auto advice about tires for any Missouri season, talk to your honest St. Louis BDG tire professional. They can help you settle upon the right tire for your area and for your driving needs. For the best performance from your tires, whatever the season, don’t forget preventive maintenance. Keep your tires up to pressure for best durability, safety and performance, but don’t overinflate them. Remember, good car care provides the safest road for all of us St. Louis auto owners.

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

Getting New Tires In St. Louis?

best tire shops in St. Louis

There are so many tire choices in the St. Louis, Clayton, and Chesterfield area, selecting the right one can be a bit overwhelming for St. Louis auto owners. And even though it’s kind of fun to have new tires on your sedan, they’re a significant investment for most St. Louis folks so you want do it right.

Tip: talk with your honest St. Louis BDG tire professional. He’ll help you sort through the choices.

Here are some of the important issues you’ll talk about: One is size – you know, all those numbers on the side of the tire. The right size is important. All new vehicles are required to have stability control which, along with other important safety systems, is calibrated to work with specific tire sizes. Your St. Louis tire professional can help stay within car makers’ specifications or program a different tire size into your sedan’s computer.

And you’ll want to discuss how and where you drive in St. Louis to determine the type of tire you need: summer, winter,  all season tires or all-terrain. There are tires for every St. Louis auto owner’s needs.

Like we said, tires are a big investment, so you want to get a good value on tires. Now that doesn’t always mean the cheapest tire. A top tier tire from St. Louis BDG will last a long time and give St. Louis car owners good performance throughout its life. Tires sold in St. Louis bargain tire shops may not live up to that promise. Again, your honest St. Louis BDG tire professional can give you options that offer the best long-term value within your immediate budget.

Last, with a 2-wheel drive vehicle, it’s vital to always replace both tires on an axle. Modern sensors and computer safety systems for sedan brakes, stability and traction control need both tires to have the same amount of wear to work properly. And always put the new tires on the rear so you don’t fishtail in a turn. With all-wheel drive you should replace all four tires at the same time.

Schedule a tire inspection at St. Louis BDG to see how much life is left in your sedan tires and seek the help of a professional when choosing new shoes for your vehicle.

Give us a call

St. Louis BDG
636-946-5900
1665 Scherer Pkwy.
St. Louis, Missouri 63303

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

Why Wheel Balancing and Tire Rotation Save You Money On Tires

St. Louis motorists want their tires to last as long as possible. Two ways to extend tire life are wheel balancing and tire rotation.

When wheels are out of balance, they wobble and vibrate. That makes the tires wear in a cupping pattern. If a front wheel is out of balance you’ll feel it in the steering wheel. If it’s a rear wheel you’ll feel it through your seat. To fix this, your technician at St. Louis BDG puts weights on your wheels to balance them out.

That brings us to tire rotation. The front tires on a sedan wear out faster than the rear tires. As they push through turns from St. Louis to Chesterfield, the shoulders of the front tires wear down. So rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate over the life of the tire.

Proper tire inflation will also help St. Louis folks’ tires last longer. Under-inflated tires wear more on the shoulder and may even overheat. This could cause tire damage or a blow out. Over-inflated tires wear too fast in the middle.

Four wheel drive trucks and SUV’s tend to wear their tires more unevenly so rotation is even more essential with them. Give St. Louis BDG a call to get our recommendation for your sedan.

See your owner’s manual or ask your tech at St. Louis BDG for your recommended tire rotation schedule. It’s usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Tires are expensive and they are one of the most essential safety components on your vehicle. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

St. Louis BDG
1665 Scherer Pkwy.
St. Louis, Missouri 63303
636-946-5900

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

St. Louis BDG Advice On Buying New Tires

Today’s tires and wheels offer a lot of options for every St. Louis driver’s style, habits and driving conditions.

Tires are designed for high-performance in winter or summer and even come in a long-wearing variety for all Missouri seasons.

St. Louis off-roaders should be excited about the options available to them as well. The tread on off-road tires is designed to handle the wear from bumps and rocks. The tires’ high profile protects rims from damage.

But what if you own an SUV but aren’t interested in off-roading around St. Louis? You can change out those high-profile beasts for a lower, wider look if it suits your style.

St. Louis BDG tire professionals can offer great auto advice on how to choose tires that match your needs and style.

The same goes for wheels. When St. Louis auto owners shop for new wheels, they can be hard-pressed to make a selection from the thousands of styles available at Missouri tire stores. If they choose a wheel that is the same size as the ones that came with their vehicle, they can get them changed out and get back on the road, no worries. But if they change the wheel size, then they may need to make some critical adjustments to their vehicle.

Upsizing a wheel may mean changing the suspension on the sedan. The wheel and tire need to fit inside the wheel well without any rubbing during turns or when driving over bumps. Rubbing can cause uneven tire wear and even damage the tires or cause safety issues.

Upsizing wheels also increases the unsprung weight of the vehicle which has a major impact on braking performance. The larger wheels increase rotational inertia, as well, which translates to longer stopping distance and lower brake performance. Upsized wheels may require upgraded brakes. Further, wheel size is used to calculate the speed and mileage of a vehicle. Changing wheel size will cause the speedometer and odometer to give inaccurate readings unless the vehicle’s computer is re-programmed to compensate for the difference.

So if you want to customize your sedan with new wheels, you should consult with a wheel and tire professional at St. Louis BDG in St. Louis to ensure you get the style you want without sacrificing safety or performance — and without damaging your vehicle.

If you just need to purchase new tires, a tire professional can also help you select the tires that are best for your driving needs and habits. The right tires will protect you and your sedan on the road.

So personalize your vehicle, but don’t forget that good car care will keep that sassy ride on the road in St. Louis a lot longer.

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

Tire Maintenance In Chesterfield



With the recent focus in Chesterfield on improving fuel economy, we’ve been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.

St. Louis car owners know that tires wear out, but we want to make them last as long as possible because they’re not cheap to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Under-inflated tires will wear out more quickly.

Some Chesterfield motorists wonder if they should add a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. Bad idea. In fact, there are very good reasons not to over-inflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.

Stop by St. Louis BDG to see about tire maintenance for your St. Louis, Missouri vehicle.

St. Louis BDG
1665 Scherer Pkwy.
St. Louis, Missouri 63303
636-946-5900

Every vehicle in the Chesterfield area has a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb that tells you the auto manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle’s suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it’s essential for Chesterfield auto owners to follow it.

What else do St. Louis motorists need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let’s start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. At St. Louis BDG in St. Louis, we rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front and they’ll all wear evenly over their life.

For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it’ll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can’t be rotated at all. Your owner’s manual will have details for your car or talk to your honest St. Louis BDG service professional.

How often should St. Louisauto owners rotate their tires? Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation. Your honest St. Louis BDG technician at St. Louis BDG in St. Louis can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles.

You know, some St. Louis people don’t think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren’t taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there’s enough variation to require balancing.

When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely essential. When a tire’s out of balance, it’s actually hopping down the road. St. Louis car owners with tires out of balance will feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire’s out of balance and through the seat if it’s a rear tire.

Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety for St. Louis drivers and their passengers. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted. 

The team at St. Louis BDG also wants to remind you that it is vital to always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And Missouri tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that’s where you need the most traction to avoid spinning-out.

Posted in   Tires and Wheels

How Much is Enough for St. Louis Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

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Most St. Louis motorists know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they’re need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are costly and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it’s critical for St. Louis motorists to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it’s critical to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with Missouri auto safety laws. That’s why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some St. Louis drivers are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most St. Louis car owners immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire’s contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road’s surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can’t shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for St. Louis motorists since the vehicle won’t stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime’s depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let’s suppose that you’re on a busy St. Louis highway in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn’t bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph. That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph. Still not a good situation. But it’s better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn’t have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It’s a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear from 2/32 to 4/32. The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in Missouri and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use a quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32. Place the quarter into the tread with George’s head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn’t cover George’s hairline, you’re under 4/32. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe’s head, it’s at 2/32. Tires are a costly item for St. Louis motorists when it comes to car care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 is good auto advice.

Posted in   Tires and Wheels