3 reasons rubbers ‘abandon’ you on the road | Inquirer Business

3 reasons rubbers ‘abandon’ you on the road

/ 10:00 PM February 28, 2012

First in a series

WHEN you neglect your tires, you also neglect yourself and the people who travel in your vehicle.

Is it a case of cheap tires, bad roads, or just plain neglect?

Tires—rubber and steel containers of pressurized air—are the only contacts you have on the road. They are the final part of the car that transmits direct power from the engine to the driving surface. Tires are even older than internal combustion vehicles. The first tires had been around since the first wheels for transport were developed. Ancient ones were made of wood, iron or steel, and used for horse-drawn carriages, carts and wheel barrows. The first rubber pneumatic tires were developed in 1887 for use in bicycles. In the decades and generations that have followed, various types of rubber compounds and tread patterns of tires have been developed to keep their mechanical and human cargoes firmly, safely, and comfortably planted on every imaginable driving surface and weather condition.


The level of technology invested in modern tires can be quite mind-boggling. Still, technology alone has never assured us of a trouble-free ride. In the often confusing interplay of technology, economics, nature, and individual human habits, the forces acting upon any working tire is never the same when compared to another. As we often learn from experience, it’s not just bad roads that cause blowups, but a slew of other factors, some unseen.


Sam Liuson, owner of Concept One Wheels and an expert on rims and tires, said the laws of matter, physics and bouyancy cannot be cheated. Nature does not condone neglect. When balding, neglected tires travel at high speeds, you run the increased risk of losing traction. He added that when tires are neglected, it would be tantamount to neglecting your safety and the safety of other people who travel in your vehicle.

Mannix M. Ocampo, vice president for sales and marketing of GT Radial-Philippines, explained the advantages of knowing the factors that play on the wear and tear of tires, such as temperatures, air pressure and even the kind of air you put in the tires. He said that car owners who understand their tires better would enjoy lower cost of tire replacements, better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions, and longer mileage with less fossil fuel consumption.

But what would accelerate the misbehaving of tires, in the first place?

1) Bad roads and overloaded vehicles. “Most car companies classify Philippine roads (and highways, including EDSA), as rough roads. Our roads are not consistent. Some are asphalted, some are cemented (concrete) and some are dirt roads. Concrete roads are not necessarily smooth. A lot are marred with cracks, and are uneven because of substandard paving and also because of overloaded vehicles,” Liuson said.

Ocampo said loose rocks/stones, broken glass, metals that jut out, nails, and even wooden planks wreak havoc on the lifespan of a tire. And a tire’s weakest spot is its sidewall.

2) Other priorities. “Most tire blow-outs are caused by neglect and wrong sense of savings, more than anything else,” laments Liuson. “Some individuals and public utility companies don’t change tires when they are obviously worn out. Tires are subjected to most of the abuse and road hazards than any other component of the vehicle every day. Not paying attention to the tires will actually be dangerous and cause more expense,” Liuson said.


Ocampo lamented that with financial priorities redirected to other things during summertime—such as graduation, that grand vacation, or next school year’s enrolment—the purchase of replacement tires is postponed despite the obvious warning signs. Some people would opt for the “middle ground”—buying surplus, used or retreaded tires.

3) Tire misconceptions. The most common fallacy, Liuson said, would be to consider bald tires as still usable. “Some people literally ’run them to the ground’ and unknowingly expose themselves to dangerous situations. Once you don’t have traction, it is like wearing your old bald slippers on a wet smooth cement pavement. You will lose traction and slip and fall,” said Liuson. In this case, when a bald tire “slips and falls,” about 1.2 tons of metal and machine falls on its occupants.

Another fallacy is that all tires can run at extremely high speeds. Ocampo revealed that all tires are speed rated. The speed rating is denoted by a capital letter immediately after the load index. The speed rating tells you of the maximum speed you can run your tire at maximum inflation pressure with maximum load, continuously for one hour without causing a tire burst or blow-out. “Example, the speed rating is H. There is a table that will tell you the value corresponding to the speed rating mentioned on your tire sidewall. Ask your tire dealer or check the website of your tire brand.”

Yet another mistaken notion would be that higher tire pressure means the vehicle can take on heavier loads. Ocampo explained that though higher air pressure does increase the load bearing capacity of the tire, this rule does not mean that the pressure is limitless. Check the sidewall and look for the load capacity index. It is the number right after the tire and rim size. Example: For a tire with markings 185/65 R14 86H, 185/65 would be the tire size, R the construction of the tire, meaning Radial, 14 means the rim size to fit the tire, and 86 is the load index.

Ocampo added that the load capacity index will tell you the maximum load that you can put on the tire at maximum tire pressure at a certain speed level without causing the tire to burst. A load capacity index is equivalent to a maximum load of 530 kg.

“There is a table that will tell you of the value corresponding to the load capacity index mentioned on your tire sidewall. Ask your tire dealer or check the website of your tire brand.”

“The sidewall says 35 psi max, so I put 35 psi.” That is a statement that many motorists put into practice, said Ocampo. “This is dangerous and can lead to tire blowouts and tire bursts. It is very important that motorists understand the correlation of air pressure with speed, load capacity and temperature,” Ocampo said.

Ocampo added that as a rule of thumb, from the maximum stated air pressure, deduct 25 percent and make that your initial air pressure. Remember to measure air pressure when your tires are in the cold state. So if your tire says, 35-psi max, load only 26 to 27 psi.

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“Air expands directly with increase in temperature. Temperature builds up directly with increase in speed and prolonged driving. Load causes flexing of the tire sidewall and the flexing adds in the temperature build-up.”

TAGS: auto, Motoring, tires

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