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Topic ClosedHow to care for tires - tire life explained

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: How to care for tires - tire life explained
    Posted: Jul/09/2008 at 7:14am

"How long will tires last before aging out? The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and tire manufacturers are currently studying the many variables. Heavily loaded tires only driven occasionally in scorching climates face some of the most severe conditions, while lightly loaded tires driven every day in moderate climates experience the least severe. Add to that the amount of exposure to the elements (sun and atmospheric) and the quality of tire and vehicle maintenance practices (proper inflation pressure, wheel alignment, etc) and you have an idea of the complexity of the situation.

While tire life will ultimately depend on the tires' service conditions and the environment in which they operate, the difficult task remains how to confirm and quantify it."


"Since heat and exposure to the elements are the important factors that influence a tire's aging process, drivers can prolong their tire's life by minimizing their impact. Here are some tips for storing tires that will not be used continuously.

       Don't store a vehicle with weight on its tires for extended periods of time. Long-term inactivity is more harmful to tires than weekly drives that flex the tires and help maintain oil dispersion within the rubber compounds.


       Keep the tires out of direct sunlight whenever possible. The sun's ultraviolet rays and radiant heat are detrimental to rubber. We have used a pyrometer to measure tires that were simply sitting in direct sunlight on a parked vehicle. Surprisingly those tires' temperatures measured 135° Fahrenheit on their surface.


       Before storing, use a tire brush to clean each tire with soap and water to remove brake dust, dirt and grime. If the tires are still mounted on wheels, use a wheel brush to clean the wheels with an approved cleaner as well. Dry with a towel and let any remaining moisture thoroughly evaporate.


DO NOT APPLY ANY TIRE DRESSINGS. Tire compounds are formulated to resist ozone cracking or weather checking.


       Place each clean and dry tire in its own large, opaque, airtight plastic bag (such as lawn and garden bags) for storing. Avoid allowing any moisture to remain and remove as much air as practical (some drivers even use a vacuum cleaner to draw out as much as possible). Close the bag tightly and tape it shut. This places the tire in its own personal mini-atmosphere to help reduce oil evaporation.


       While Seasonal Tire Totes make it neater to store tires, easier to carry tires and reduce the possibility of depositing brake dust, dirt and grime in the trunk or on the back seat during transportation, Seasonal Tire Totes are not airtight nor designed to prevent exposure to the atmosphere. The recommended solution would be to place each clean each tire and wheel into the airtight plastic bag and then cover the sealed bag with a Tire Tote.


       If you choose not to store white letter/white stripe tires in plastic bags, it is important they be stored or stacked white-to-white and black-to-black to prevent staining the white rubber. The black rubber used on the tires' white letter/white stripe side is compounded differently then the black rubber used on the opposite side. A layer of non-staining black rubber covers the white rubber on the tire's white side to prevent oils in the tire from migrating into the exposed white rubber and discoloring it, however the black sidewall uses standard rubber. Stacking all tires white sidewall up will allow the oils from each tire's black sidewall to migrate into the white rubber of the tire below it.


       Place the tires in a cool, dry location. It is better to store tires in a dry basement or climate-controlled workshop than in a standard garage, storage shed, hot attic or outdoors. While basement and shop surroundings tend to remain cool and dry, conditions found in typical garage, shed, attic and outdoor locations often include a wide range of hot and cold temperatures, as well as seasonal precipitation and humidity.


       Keep the tires away from sources of ozone. Electric motors that use contact brushes generate ozone. Keep your tires away from the furnace, sump pump, etc.


While tires will age somewhat regardless of what precautions are taken, these procedures will help slow the process compared to taking no precautions at all."


"Pneumatic tires are made of specialized rubber compounds reinforced by plies of fabric cords and metal wires. While most rubber compounds can be stretched easily, the underlying fabric cords and steel wires actually define the tire's shape by limiting stretching. In order to bond these dissimilar materials, the cords and wires are coated with adhesives and/or rubber before the other components are bonded to them during curing.


A strong bond between these various components is necessary to provide the desired durability. However the strength of the bond can be reduced if 1) any of the components are contaminated during manufacturing (resulting in incomplete bonding), or 2) components are damaged in service due to use while overloaded/underinflated, or by impact with potholes, curbs or other road hazards that pinch the tire between the rim and the road, or simply stretch the rubber beyond the elastic limit of the underlying cords and wires.


Past experience indicates that a sidewall separation/bubble caused by component contamination or incomplete bonding during manufacturing will appear within the first six months of service. Fortunately these separations/bubbles typically appear when they are small in size and before the tire's strength is substantially reduced. However since typical tires roll about 800 times every mile and the air pressure inside the tire is greater than outside, tire separations/bubbles that are unseen or ignored will continue to grow in size, further reduce strength, often generate noise and vibration, and ultimately lead to tire failure as the tire stretches under load (similar to the way that continuously bending a paperclip back and forth will cause it to weaken and break). However there is one last thing to remember; while a separation/bubble early in a tire's life is usually associated with a manufacturing condition, even a single, significant impact with a deep pothole or sharp curb can cause a new tire and wheel to be damaged.


If the sidewall separation/bubble appears after six months of on-vehicle service, prolonged driving on overloaded/underinflated tires or a road hazard are the most likely causes. However it may take weeks or months after an impact for a separation/bubble to appear as the damaged or bruised area continues to weaken. Unfortunately the time differential between the impact that caused the initial damage and the delayed appearance of visible evidence often means that the driver has forgotten about the impact that damaged the tire in the first place.


The varieties of possible causes make it necessary to inspect the tire while mounted on the wheel (sometimes the wheel will show impact damage adjacent to the separation/bubble), as well as to dismount the tire and inspect the condition of its innerliner thoroughly. Sometimes it is necessary to return a tire to the manufacturer's inspection center where it can be dissected before the actual cause can be determined.


While taller profile tires can be damaged by the more severe impacts with deeper potholes and sharper curbs, low profile tires mounted on large diameter wheels are the most susceptible to this type of damage.

The driver of vehicles equipped with low profile tires should make special efforts to avoid potholes, curbs or other road hazards."

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