Episode 144 - Tires and Extreme Heat


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In today’s podcast we’ll be discussing Tires and Extreme Heat.

We have discussed the effects of cold weather on tires many times, but with the hot summer weather upon us (aka “the Dog Days of Summer“), we thought it would be an excellent time to discuss the effect of extreme heat on tires and vehicle control.

According to the national highway safety administration in 2017, there were 3.2 trillion miles put on tires in the US and 738 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in tire-related crashes. Many of these crashes are preventable through proper tire maintenance— including tire inflation, among other tire factors.

Basic Tires To put it succinctly, the only connection between you and mother earth is your tires. Keep in mind that the tires don’t support the vehicle load. The pressurized air inside the tire supports the weight of the vehicle. The tire is just the container; this might sound obvious, but it is critical to understand.

Heat and Tires Tire pressure will increase as the outside air temperature rises; tire pressure will go up approximately one pound for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Tire pressures are a vehicle characteristic that needs monitoring often. The Tire Pressure Monitoring System will warn the driver when the tire pressures are low but do not supply a warning when the pressure is too high.

Excessive heat will over-inflate the tires. Over-inflated tires can lose traction because the shape of the tire becomes deformed by extreme air pressure, decreasing the tire’s footprint on the road, limiting traction and stability. The tires can be more prone to damage. An over-inflated tire is stiffer and can cause loss of control when they come in contact with common road hazards like potholes.

Suggestions We suggest that you look at the Temperature letter on your tire. The temperature grades are an indication of a tire’s resistance to heat. Sustained high temperature (for example, driving long distances in hot weather), can cause a tire to deteriorate, leading to blowouts and tread separation.

According to Tire Rack The Uniform Tire Quality Grading Temperature Grade indicates the extent to which heat is generated or dissipated by a tire. If the tire is unable to dissipate the heat effectively or if the tire is unable to resist the destructive effects of heat buildup, then its ability to run at high speeds is reduced. The temperature grade is given by measuring a loaded tire’s ability to operate at high speeds without failure by running an inflated test tire against a large diameter high-speed laboratory test wheel.

Temperature Grades Speeds in MPH:

  1. Over 115
  2. Between 100 to 115
  3. Between 85 to 100

The speeds may seem excessive; however, these conducted tests are with a driver and no extra load. An SUV with 3 to 4 passengers and luggage, or in a security situation, armor, creates a much different test scenario. We strongly suggest always to have A-rated tires, plus daily evaluation of the tire pressures.

The NHTSA has a simple tire checklist which you can download by going to https://isdacenter.org/tirechecklist

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