Why is it Dangerous to Drive with Under-Inflated Tyres?


The Dangers of driving on underinflated tyres

Tyres are those forgotten black round things on the bottom of your car. Most people never check their air pressure and are blissfully unaware of the dangers that under inflated tyres cause. Tyres are designed for certain tyre pressures to be able to withstand the riggers of driving and the challenging road conditions that they need to deal with.

You need to picture a tyre that is under inflated when it hits a pothole or debris on the road. Because the tyre is not at the recommended pressure, the tyre will be softer, and the impact of foreign objects and potholes will cause the tyre to flex beyond it’s normal limits and potentially cause rim damage or tyre failure.

Tyres are designed to ride on the full face of the tread. The tread area is reinforced with steel belting to deal with the varying road surfaces and the imperfections, debris and other materials that may cause tyre damage. If a tyre is under inflated the tyre starts to ride on the side wall of the tyre especially when cornering. The side wall is simply thicker rubber and although tough it cannot take the impact of potholes and sharp objects like rocks nails and screws that fall off the back of trucks.

Other Risk Factors of Under Inflated Tyres

Low Tyre Pressures is the number one reason for tyre failure. When the sidewall rubs along the road, friction is increased as is heat generation in areas of the tyre that are not designed to withstand that type of wear and tear. Prolonged driving with low tyre pressure will ultimately case tyre failure. Sidewalls are there to hold the air within the tyre and flex as required to provide a rolling air cushion between the car and the road. Tyres running on low air pressure will disintegrate internally due to the heat and friction caused.

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Under Inflated Tyres

Increases the Rolling Resistance of the tyre.

If you have ever ridden a pushbike with flat tyres or tried to push a car or trailer with low tyre pressure you will understand that it is much harder to do so with tyres that have low pressure. Once you place the correct air pressure in them, the difference is considerable. You need to apply that to your car and the added stress to drive the car forward is significant on the engine and all steering and suspension components.

Effects on Steering

Under inflated tyres will roll off the tread section of your tyre and onto the sidewall especially during cornering. Treads are designed to aid tyres holding the road and sidewalls are not. Tyres are designed to work at optimal performance with the correct pressures keeping the only contact with the road being the tread. Any other parts of the tyre that make contact with the road due to under inflation will significantly decrease the performance of the tyre in dry conditions but especially in wet conditions. Most sidewalls are smooth except for some 4WD tyres who have tread wrap to aid in grip whilst travelling through rough terrain. A smooth surface will not grip in the wet, instead in will result in the tyre aquaplaning and losing control.

Under Inflated Tyres will create uneven tyre wear and dramatically reduce tyre Life

Under inflated tyres simply destroy tyres from the inside and out. Internal friction will grind the internal sidewalls down rapidly leaving piles of rubber flakes within the tyre as well as wearing down the outer edges of your tread. Under inflated tyres will roll onto the outer tread especially during cornering. This will quickly wear your tread to the canvas and steel belt, resulting in a tyre failure or blowout with potential catastrophic results.

Low Inflation reduces Braking Performance

Tyres are designed to be riding on the tread with correct tyre pressure. When tyre pressures are low the tyre can’t use the technology developed within the tread to stop the car.

Low Tyre Inflation Reduces Steering Precision

When tyres have low tyre pressure, they will corner only using the outer edge of the tyre. 80-90% of the tread and structural strength is not being used and the car will roll off the tyre tread pattern and sometimes off the rim itself. This reduces the safe driving ability of the car and a danger to drive and to other drivers.

Can you Feel if your Tyre Pressures are Low?

Most people don’t notice that their tyre pressures are low because it is normally a gradual loss of air, so no major change is noticed. You may however notice a quick loss of pressure due to a large puncture. The most noticeable sign is the car pulling to one side or feeling like it is rolling into corners or not wanting to turn the way you expect it too.

You will certainly notice a blowout as the vehicle will be running on the rim and the steering will change dramatically. This will require you to pull over as soon and as safely as possible to replace the tyre.

Check your Tyre Pressures Regularly

It is worth investing in a tyre gauge, which should cost you no more than $10-$20 from your local Repco or Supercheap store. Check your tyres once a month as a rule or if you think they look flat or the car is not driving the way it should, put the gauge on the tyres and check them for low inflation. If you are not sure what to do with a gauge, then pop into your nearest tyre store and get them to check the pressures or call your mobile tyre service to pop by and check the pressures. This service should be free at most stores and is well worth the 10 minutes it will take to call in for the check.

Don’t forget your tyres as they are the only thing between you and the road and play a major role in keeping the car on the road safely. They are a major component in braking, cornering and driving at speed. Neglecting your tyres will only cost you more in early tyre replacement, premature wear of steering, engine, and suspension components, adding considerable cost to your servicing bill.

Safe & Happy Driving

From Grant & The Team at Mobile Tyre & Auto Team & East Cost Mobile.

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