Tires

Ethan Haddon, a tire technician at Southern Tire Mart, says he sees at least five to six tire patch repairs a day.

Getting the most out of tires is important when a new set can set a car owner back several hundred dollars.

A small, almost microscopic puncture in a tire could lead to an assortment of problems for a vehicle. Early detection is key to only having to pay about $10 for a patch repair rather than having to purchase a whole new tire — or worse, having a flat while driving on a busy road.

“I would say we have an average of no less than five or six patches a day,” said Ethan Haddon, a tire technician at Southern Tire Mart. “Some days, we come here and have nothing but flat repairs.”

Tires can be damaged from objects in the road, an accident such as running off the road, or hitting a pothole, which is one of the most common reasons, Haddon said.

One way a vehicle owner may be alerted to needing a patch is when the “low air in tire” message flashes on the dashboard. If the message begins flashing again a week or two later after airing up the tire that’s low, the vehicle should be promptly taken to a mechanic to see if the tire can be patched before more damage is caused.

Whether a tire can be patched depends on where the puncture is.

“If it’s on top of the tire, you’re good to go. We’ll patch it right up,” said Haddon. “But if it’s on the sidewall, we cannot fix it, because when the tire flexes, the patch will come right back off.”

Haddon said a tire patch will last the life of the tire “as long as it’s not where it doesn’t need to be.” He also recommends that a tire should have no more than three to four patches. If more punctures occur, it’s time for a new tire.

What can motorists do to get the longest life out of their tires?

“Rotating is the best way to take care of your tires,” said Haddon.

Tires should be rotated every other oil change, or about every 6,000 miles.

Not rotating car tires will wear the front set out quickly.

“They will be slick on the inside, and you’ll need new tires then,” said Haddon.

During a tire rotation, the front tires are moved to the back and the back tires to the front.

When purchasing new tires, Haddon said, there’s really not a time frame for how long they will last.

Proper upkeep and rotating them, as well as being mindful of when a tire looks low, can help get the most out of tires, though.

When is it time for new tires?

“When you look at your tires and you see they are pretty low on tread,” said Haddon.

Low tread becomes particularly noticeable — and dangerous — during inclement weather.

“When you hit water and you can’t control it in the rain, that’s because the tires are low on tread,” Haddon said.

Here are some more tips from Southern Tire Mart to stay on top of tire maintenance:

• Check tire pressure to ensure proper inflation. Underinflation can lead to excess heat, uneven tire wear and decreased braking and handling capabilities, which may cause structural failures such as blowouts and tread separation. Properly inflated tires will maximize tread life, improve handling, and increase fuel efficiency and overall driver safety.

• Follow proper tire rotation schedules. Recommended rotation patterns for a vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual. Routine tire rotations equalize and enhance front-to-rear and side-to-side tire wear. Tire rotation, though, will not prevent or circumvent wear issues caused by worn mechanical components.

• Balance tires as necessary. Out-of-balance tires may be detected in bumps that become more noticeable at higher speeds. Balancing tires is necessary during initial installation and during a remount.

• Install new tires in sets or pairs. The addition of one new tire to the rotation cycle can cause instability and create vehicle handling issues. When new tires are needed, two new tires should be installed on the rear of a vehicle, and the partially worn tires should be moved to the front.

• Be mindful of abnormal tire wear or damage to your tires. Watch for signs of punctures, embedded objects, cracks and bulges.

• Always keep a spare tire, and make sure it’s properly inflated and ready for use. You never know when you’re going to need it.

• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7233 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

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