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Tire Safety

This article is about tire safety and knowledge that is vital to the vehicle owner and hopefully it will enlighten technicians and repair facilities, to the point where they become more interested in safety than in products.

These self checks that the vehicle owner can do themselves do not require diagnostic tools or even checking your air pressure, although that is a good place to start, but I totally support bringing back some level of professional service to Automotive repair facilities, and in doing so they should be happy to have you come in and have your tires checked and filled at no charge and a minimal wait.

A tire underinflated not only reduces your gas mileage and can contribute to unsafe turns,  But it will also muffle serious tire noise, tire noise that can signal a defective tire that possibly can blow out the sidewall and cause an accident, this is where you come in, use your ears !

Using your hearing to listen to the sounds tires make is a learning curve, and will require a few minutes of no radio or fan, or children singing or whatever they do.

If you can drive quietly when the vehicle is cold on a fairly straight asphalt or black road surface you can listen if you hear nothing after you get up to speed and let off and coast a little that is a good sign,  the trained ear will hear each tire, even if quiet.

 There are specific noises that might be heard at different times. If the weather is cool and you hear a wop wop wop and feel a little uneven vibration in the steering wheel that would be a front tire that has a flat spot in the tread casing, if it goes away when warm that is a good thing but you need to remember about that and tell your tire pro. if there is one available, if you have doubts about your pro or cant afford to pay a rf for something that might not help get a tire rotation and make sure that tire is put on the rear and the right rear is safest.

 Another noise you might hear is a constant roughness or grinding noise so if you turn your steering wheel gently to the left and then the right and the sound stops or gets worse you have just identified a failing front hub bearing assembly, they usually get real bad before any accident occurrs.

 A tire noise that does not change at front or rear can be a hard tire , a faulty casing or a rim problem so again have it rotated but not to the front, if it is a bad tire, which is what this article is about, it just slowly gets worse as the inner sidewall weakens and stops supporting the tread, the steel cords break and cut through the casing and the tire blows.

The following is a true story that is very recent. 

Regarding four Firestone tires I purchased new and had installed on my 2007 Honda ridgeline, a work truck for highway use only, hauling nothing but me and my camera.
I am a automotive warranty inspector, for various companys, Ford, Toyota, Honda, the Better Business Bureau and many others.
In my line of work it is essential to determine the conditions previous to failure, why ? because we may or may not get the whole truth about what happened.
Let me set up a little of my history, I have been a mechanic of all phazes, a suspension and front end tech and service advisor - whos main concern is tire wear and safety, I have been an emmissions specialist for a decade and brake, steering transmission engine and hvac certified by ASE and auto manufacturers. Lets see 36 years now.
In our training we are taught how all these components are related, and that there is always a definate trail of wear and if not then there is only that one  item that failed.

My truck is very very smooth, ask anyone that owns one. Ridgelines have great rides, so when my truck started vibrating in the steering wheel it was very noticeable and of concern, and at 115k miles I figured well it needs an alignment or some part that has worn out.

I took it in to the Firestone dealer where I bought my tires and agreed to pay them fifty five bucks to check my front end and the balance of the tires, and put the fronts on the rear.

Needless to say it moved the problem to the rear, it felt like a bad tire, flap flap flap when cold and a little better when warm, I was determined to get it fixed, so I took it to another tire store and had them balance it, he said something is wrong it needs 3 and a half ounces on one side and that still wont do it, I told him to bubble balance it and see how crooked it was he said he thought the rim was bent? I could not figure this out the first set of tires wore evenly and smoothly and the other three are perfect , I am only on the hiways.

So where does one turn these days for incapable product service. Why was my tire dealer unable to tell me that tire was messed up ?
Well sure enough the other day the inner sidewall blew out, the tire is a Primewell pa100 a suv tire, does that set off alarms ?

I seriously doubt it is a repeat of Firestones recalls and Ford failures, but the pictures of those tires look exactly like mine.

Obviously I knew I did not want to go back to my tire store(no more
) so I went to another Firestone dealer, the man in charge told me he doesnt know why the tire failed but it was not the tires fault, and he would sell me a replacement at half price, which ended up twenty dollars less than what I paid for them originally, boy was I getting a good deal.

Lets see
original price $ xx.xx
balance and rotate $xx.xx
another balance $xx.xx
a flat on the freeway $xxx.xx nice
chasing down a responsible party ??????

and a discount for another $xx.xx

I ask you not only in car repair and product reliability but other industries with low standards of responsibility , do you think these qualified businesses have anything to do with the fact our nation is failing right now ?

People need to open thier eyes, re evaluate thier product, the name of the game is not " TALK YOUR CUSTOMER INTO SUBMISSION" It used to be "AT ALL COSTS THE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION COMES FIRST" That is what created us as a world leading nation. Now other countries laugh at our greed and lack of quality, and they too still emulate us.

If people want to go to work , go work on being better.
As far as I am concerned it is very scary these guys are in charge of safety items on automobiles, its obvious they are proceeding thru training not skill and open eyes.

As you can see tire safety is very important and usually you get what you pay for and high dollar tires are usually very good, but they can have sidewall or tread seperation bubbles that a technichian can miss. It is up to you to take a look and listen occasionaly. Along these lines, future articles will deal with all the various noises so tune those ears up and turn down the radio once in awhile.

Tim Power


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