Cracking Up: Cracked Tires Are No Joke

Dear Bree,

I’ve been reading your blogs for a while now, and I know that when you live somewhere really cold with ice and snow on the ground a good bit, you should probably invest in some quality snow tires.  The problem is that I don’t necessarily live somewhere like that—or I didn’t until this year.  As you probably know, this winter has been colder than most (and much more snowy!), and my tires have been getting a workout!  I keep my high-performance summer tires on all year—I know I probably shouldn’t, but I do—and I’m a little worried.  I’ve seen some news recently about summer tires being more susceptible to cracking, and I’m wondering if you can explain why and what I should look out for.  I don’t think I’m seeing cracks, but I’m not sure exactly what to look for.  Are these large fissures or are these fine lines like crow’s feet.  Help me out!

Thanks, Bree!

 

Snowing in Baltimore

 

Dear Snowing,

This is a great question and quite timely!  GM and Consumer Reports recently issued warnings that ultra high-performance tires are more susceptible to cracking in cold temperatures, and they advised people to avoid “driving, moving or test-driving” specific vehicle models equipped with these tires during very cold weather due to the possibility of cracks developing in the tires.  Why, you ask?  We’ll tell you.

Ultra high-performance summer tires are built with what basically amounts to a racing compound to offer ultimate handling.  How often do you see a NASCAR race in the snow?  There are lots of reasons for that, obviously, but here’s another: Racing tires are not built to handle cold.  In fact, at certain temperatures they become brittle and inflexible.  They’re built to grip the road and be flexible, and to get these qualities their rubber compound is very specific; and specifically, they don’t do cold.  They become stiff and they lose their bounce; they lose their grip and don’t hold the road.  Sometimes, they also crack.

Lest you think cracking is just a cosmetic problem like, say, crow’s feet, we feel the need to correct you.  Cracks are always serious and should be treated that way.  Cracks can evolve; they can grow and spread.  Cracked tires are potentially dangerous tires.  Check out the sidewalls of your tires—do you see some fine cracks developing?  Check your tires all over; if you were looking for the Grand Canyon, chances are you’d have a flat already, so take a closer look.  Think small.  If your tires are cracked, you should replace them—end of story.  Your safety rides on your tires, and that’s a heck of a load.  Take it seriously.

We know the weather is warming (mostly), and you’re looking to put the top down and take a ride with the wind in your hair, but take some time to check your tires, especially if your vehicle is equipped with summer tires that have been exposed to cold temps and winter conditions.  Take a good look and see if you notice any cracking.  Check the tread.  Make sure your tires are safe before you put the hopes of a summer of fun on tires that can’t carry the weight.  If you find that your tires aren’t looking as good as they should, you know where we are.  RNR has a large stock of tires, and if we don’t have what you want, we can easily place an order for you.  And don’t forget that RNR can set you up on a payment plan to get you back on the road as quickly as possible!  See you soon!

Bree