SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — When the rubber meets the road in record-breaking heat, the chances of tire failure rise along with the temperature.
“It flies and it hits that plastic radiator or the air conditioning unit on the front of the car and you’re done,” Charles Grace, manager of University Automotive, said to FOX40.
Grace said the shop has been busy in this heat wave. Tires with worn-out treads are especially vulnerable to failure in the heat.
“So this is a layer of steel belts. You can see they went through the top layer of steel belt down to the secondary,” Grace said.
But even good tires can fail if not properly inflated to the numbers listed on the sticker by the driver’s side door.
“Sometimes the front is a different rating than the rear. It also will tell you about the spare,” Grace said.
Overinflation is a bad idea because the heat causes tires to expand. But under-inflation can also cause tires to fail in this weather. Under-inflation creates rolling resistance in the steel belt, the friction leading to additional heat buildup.
“It can be quite substantial, especially if you have a loaded vehicle. Say a half-ton pickup with a full load and a low tire, it is a recipe for disaster. It will destroy the bonding layers between the layers of rubber in the tire, and it will separate. And usually, it will explode,” Grace explained.
“A warning sign for a low tire would be pulling. Say your passenger front tire was low, it would start pulling and you would notice it. You would have to physically turn the wheel to counter-react that. And most people would not understand that that was an under-inflated tire that was about to have a failure,” Grace continued.
Grace explained it’s also important to make sure you’re buying the right kind of tires for the climate where you live.
“And it has a tread wear rating, a traction rating, and a temperature rating. This tire has an ‘A’ temperature rating, and it has the best temperature rating you can get,” Grace said.
A manufacturer’s recommended tire rating will account for the expansion that happens with heat, so it’s best to stick with those numbers.