Navigation

Service Videos

Home » Services » Tires and Wheels (23)

West Texas Automotive Tire Safety: Washington vs. Lincoln

Posted December 09, 2018 06:37 AM

Welcome to the West Texas Automotive automotive blog. Today, let's talk about the effect of tire wear.

Let's focus on stopping in wet Midland conditions. In order for a tire to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can't move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water.

That's called hydroplaning. If it's really bad, Midland drivers can actually spin out of control - endangering themselves and the other drivers around them. At best, you won't stop as fast.

So how does a tire move water? It has channels for water to flow through. Look at your vehicle tire and you'll see channels: channels that run around the tire and channels that flow across the tire. They're designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.

And the deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new West Texas Automotive tire has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water. When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop your vehicle on wet Midland roads.

So that's why it's so important for Midland drivers to replace their vehicle tires when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of 3/32 of an inch and they have the studies to prove it.

At West Texas Automotive, we want our customers to know that the deeper recommended tread depth makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet Midland streets. A safe stop from Texas speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.

There's an easy way to tell when a tire's worn to 4/32 of an inch.

Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your vehicle tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

Many Midland residents have heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln's head - the old method. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. Of course, vehicle tires are a major purchase. Most of us in Midland want to get as many miles out of them as we can. But there's a real safety trade-off. It's your choice.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



All About Your TPMS in Midland

Posted September 16, 2018 07:53 AM



Midland drivers know that underinflated tires wear out more quickly. Underinflation is also a major cause of tire failure for Texas auto owners. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of underinflated tires.

It's hard for many Midland drivers to tell when a radial tire is underinflated. If your owner’s manual recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under-inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.

Uncle Sam to the rescue! A recent U.S. federal law required vehicle manufacturer’s to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System - or TPMS system - in all vehicles. Many Canadian vehicles have them as well.  The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25% below its pressure recommendations.

Obviously, all of this doesn't come free for Midland car owners. Government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100.

Texas service centers have purchased new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and updated expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems.

West Texas Automotive service advisors have been trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to the service center to perform what was once a very inexpensive service. So if you've noticed the cost of flat repairs, tire changes, and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it's because of government mandated safety equipment. Your Midland service center just wants to keep you safely on the road - and it's committed to do so at a fair price. Remember, this change will help you avoid the most common vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



The Fallacy of Cheap Tires

Posted April 23, 2018 10:12 AM

Do you ever shop for shoes in one of our Odessa area shoe stores?
When buying a running shoe, is quality important?
Does durability matter as long as the shoes look fabulous?
Would you rather have one pair of long lasting shoes or two pair of lower quality shoes at the same price?

Is the warranty important when buying tires?
When you choose new tires in Midland, what's the most important factor for you?

Give us a call at West Texas Automotive at 432-689-5414 for tire recommendations.

You know, buying tires in Midland is a big deal. It's a big ticket item so you know you'll be spending a lot. You're not only concerned about the price, but you want to know that it'll be a long time before you need to buy new tires again.

And of course there's the safety aspect as well. The tires do a lot of work – they carry the weight of the vehicle and you and your passengers. They need to be up to the task. You want to be sure they hold the road and provide good traction. If you carry heavy loads or tow a trailer, the tires need a high load rating to be up for the job.

As a tire professional, I think it's important that people understand the effect of price on a tire's performance and durability. When I was a kid, my dad had a saying, "Pay twice as much and buy half as many."

Dad applied that to a lot of things. He thought that one high quality suit would last longer and look better than two cheap suits. The saying really seems to hold true when it comes to shoes and boots, too.

I buy high-quality work shoes because I spend a lot of time on my feet. They're more comfortable, have important safety features like steel toes and non-slip soles and they last at least twice as long as cheap shoes. I feel I get very good value for my money.

I apply the same thinking to tires. The major tire brands that you're familiar with are known as Tier 1 tires. These tires are well-engineered and very high quality. Comparable tires are usually in the same price range from brand to brand.

Stepping down in price you come to private label tires. Some large tire store chains carry tires with the chain's own brand. It's important to know that most private label tires are built by the same Tier 1 brands that you are familiar with, so they are a quality product. You can ask your tire professional who makes their private brand.

The lowest priced tires on the market are Tier 3 tires. These tend to be imported from China or South America. Since you get what you pay for, you can't expect a Tier 3 tire to deliver the same performance and durability as the others.

So let's say you need new tires. You've determined the features you need. So you have several options, including price options. Now, you've probably heard the term 'it's a 40,000 mile/64,000 km tire' or 'it's a 60,000 mile/97,000 km tire'. Simply put, the manufacturer warrantees the tire for 'X' number of miles/kilometers. If that's important to you, look for the warranty.

What's the difference in the tires with higher mileage warranties? It's the rubber compounds and the amount of tread material. As you might expect, you'll pay more for the longer-lasting tire.

Now the cheapest tires you can find won't have a manufacturer's mileage warranty, or if it does, it'll be relatively low. That brings us back to dad's saying; if you buy the cheapest Tier 3 tire you can, you will likely go through two sets in the time it would take to wear out one set of good quality tires. And the good tires won't cost twice as much, so you'll end up paying more per mile/km driven with the cheap tires.

Hey, I realize that sometimes the budget will only allow for a Tier 3 tire. I make them available for my customers who need them because I would rather see them driving with safe, new tires than pushing their old tires beyond their safety limits. But at West Texas Automotive, we always counsel our customers to buy as much tire as they can afford, because it will be much less expensive in the long run.

Your tires are the only parts of your vehicle that touch the road. You're only as safe as your tires are well built.

Buy value – not price.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://themobiletirestore.autodealertips.com



Talk to West Texas Automotive About New Shoes for Your Vehicle

Posted April 16, 2018 01:26 AM

Custom wheels are one way that Midland folks express themselves and personalize their vehicle. But they aren't as cheap and easy as sticking decals on your back window. There are several factors that need to be considered, including cost, the fit of the wheel, modifications that will have to be made to the vehicle, how the new wheels and tires will affect the operation of the vehicle, your driving habits and, of course, the style of the wheels. Most Midland drivers start with the last factor: the style of the wheels. But that should be the last thing we choose.

When considering custom wheels, you should first carefully consider your budget. Some wheels may require adjustments to your vehicle suspension system, brakes, or traction systems. You need to know what you can afford before you start shopping or get your heart set on a particular type of wheel.

There are three basic ways you can change your wheels. First, you choose a wheel that is already the same size as the ones on your vehicle. Second, you can choose larger wheels and third, you can choose smaller wheels. Mounting wheels that are the same size as the ones already on your car sounds easy enough. But even though the wheel may be the same diameter as your current wheels, that doesn't mean it will fit your vehicle. Besides diameter, wheels also have an offset. This is the measurement from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on. If your new wheel does not have the same offset as your current wheels, your vehicle tires can rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. This can lead to blowouts, uneven tread wear and other mechanical problems.

The tire and wheel professionals in Midland at West Texas Automotive on 4703 Andrews Hwy can help you select a wheel that has both the correct diameter and offset for your vehicle. Or, if you really want a specific wheel in spite of the offset difference, your technician may be able to install adapters that will make the wheels fit.

Mounting larger wheels is a more involved process. There are several ways of doing this. You can mount larger wheels but keep the overall tire diameter the same. Or you can “supersize” your tire/wheel combo. Mounting larger wheels while maintaining the same overall tire diameter is the easiest way to increase wheel size. You still need to adjust for offset. Generally, this alteration means that your new tires will be wider than the originals, so you will have to install adapters to keep them from rubbing on the wheel wells. Consult your service advisor at West Texas Automotive by calling 432-689-5414.

If you want to install larger wheels and increase the overall tire diameter, it is important that the package fits in the wheel well; you may have to do some minor modifications to your suspension. More importantly, you will have to reprogram your vehicle engine's computer to calibrate for the larger tire size. The computer calculates your speed based on the rotation of your tires, so increasing the size of the tires will render it inaccurate. Inaccurate speed calculations can mess up your anti-lock brakes and your stability control systems, as well as your speedometer and odometer.

As you can see, the more modifications you make, the more it becomes important to have your friendly and knowledgeable West Texas Automotive tire and wheel professional help you with your car care.

If you really want those “super-sized” tires, great: just factor in the issues listed above, plus you may have to have modifications done to your suspension system.

The larger wheels and tires will add weight to your vehicle. This weight is not held up by the suspension system, so is referred to as “unsprung” weight. Adding unsprung weight affects your car differently than just adding loads inside of your car. Unsprung weight can affect acceleration and braking. Putting large wheels on your vehicle may require an upgraded brake system.

Also, you may not get the performance from your vehicle that you've been used to. It may be sluggish when accelerating or harder to handle when turning. You may also find that the ride is bumpier than it was before. Of course, done right at West Texas Automotive, a good wheel job can sometimes improve a vehicle's ride or performance. It just depends on your vehicle, the type of wheels you choose and what you are hoping to accomplish.

Now let's suppose you want smaller wheels on your vehicle. That should be easier, right? Not really. You still have to worry about offset, and it is important that your computer be reprogrammed to account for calibration issues. And you may need adjustments to your suspension system.

Remember your budget? All of these scenarios require that you shell out some money. Perhaps now you can see why it is good auto advice for Midland drivers to make that consideration first, before setting their heart on a specific type of wheel.

Another consideration should always be your driving habits. Do you do a lot of off-roading on the outskirts of Midland? Do you carry heavy loads? Do you tow a trailer on Texas roads? All of these factors must be considered when replacing your tires and wheels. Some wheels just may not be up to the work you need them to do.

For example, if you mount large rims on your vehicle, then add low-profile tires to avoid major adjustments to other systems, they won't be able to handle off-roading as well as larger tires. There won't be enough sidewall on the tires to absorb the impact from off-roading. You could end up with dented or broken rims.

At the end of the day, Midland drivers should always put safety ahead of appearance. That's why you shouldn't add custom wheels to your vehicle without consulting with your West Texas Automotive tire and wheel professional. Cutting corners when installing custom wheels by not making necessary adjustments to all of the systems impacted by the change can result in dangerous operating conditions as well as repairs down the road.

The friendly and knowledgeable auto professionals at West Texas Automotive want to remind Midland drivers of the basics of vehicle safety: preventive maintenance, emergency preparedness and professional repairs. Stay safe, and stay on the road.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



Picking the Right Tires in Midland

Posted March 11, 2018 07:06 AM

Shopping for tires in Midland can be bewildering because there are many choices. Let's simplify. There are four main classifications of tires, each designed for different purposes.

First off, there are summer tires. Those who buy summer tires in Midland are looking for maximum summertime performance. The rubber is a little softer to help stick to the road on fast corners on Texas roads. The tread has wide blocks at the shoulder to stiffen the tire in turns. The tread design can handle rain but really isn't set up for snow and ice.

Next comes winter tires. Midland people buy winter tires because they still like performance driving when it's cold and slippery on Texas roads, so they need a tread design that'll really bite into ice and snow. The rubber compound is formulated to stay pliable when temperatures drop below 45 degrees F/7 degrees C so they get great traction even on dry roads. On the other end of the winter tire spectrum are tires designed to handle well in severe ice and snow conditions.

The third category is all-season tires. Most new cars in Midland showrooms come with all-season tires. This is a tire that is designed to be used all year round. The tread design and rubber compound is a compromise that won't give you the extreme capabilities of summer or winter tires; but if you're driving and weather conditions aren't at the extreme ends of the range, all-season tires might suit you just fine.

The last category is what you might have on your SUV or pickup. All-terrain or off-road tires are designed for both highway and off-road use – a tire that gets good traction in the dirt and on off-road obstacles, but still performs well on paved Midland roads.

Choosing the right tire is important for Midland car owners. Talk with your West Texas Automotive tire professional about your driving requirements and receive valuable guidance on tires that will meet your needs.

Give us a call.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



Selecting New Tires and Wheels

Posted February 25, 2018 05:46 AM



Some of us Midland drivers just love tires. All those little rubber hairs on new tires and the smell is wonderful. We live in a great time for tires. No matter how you drive around Texas, where you want to go or the look you're after; there is a tire for you.

The same is true about wheels. The hardest part is choosing from the thousands of wheels available at Texas tire shops.

The team at West Texas Automotive can help you get some things in mind before you make a purchase. Let's start with function and think about how you drive.

For example, maybe you have a large SUV but you don't drive off-road around Texas, so an off-road tread isn't important. Also, because you are not out bouncing over rocks in the Texas backcountry, you don't need a high profile tire to protect your rims. So that means you can probably go with the low-wide look.

If you have a winter season with rain and snow or if you find you need better ice and snow performance, they make great, high-performance snow tires that won't make it look like you are driving a tractor.

There really are a lot of options for any given vehicle. Midland drivers will find it very helpful to have a discussion like this with their Midland tire pro or the tire experts at West Texas Automotive when they need new tires. You can find the best solutions for your driving needs and to make improvements in ride or handling.

Picking a wheel that is the same size as what you are now running on is important and pretty simple. But, it gets trickier if you want to upsize. Just get some help when you go bigger. All that tire and wheel still needs to fit in the available space. You do not want your tires to rub when you turn or hit a bump. Midland drivers also need to make sure their brakes and suspension bits will fit with their wheel of choice. It doesn't matter how great your car looks if it's not drivable.

Taller, wider wheels and tires probably weigh more than your stock shoes. And it's "unsprung" weight that has a big impact on brake performance. The upsized shoes increase rotational inertia; if you go too big you may need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.

Another possible problem is an inaccurate speedometer. This happens because the number of rotations can change with the new wheels. Fortunately, speedometers and odometers are all controlled by the engine computer; so they need to get reprogrammed at West Texas Automotive to compensate for the bigger tires.

No matter what you are after: low cost, long life, high performance, traction or stunning good looks, your wheel and tire professional at West Texas Automotive in Midland, Texas, can help identify your needs and give you a custom fit. With all the options available, you don't have to compromise. There is a tire out there with your name on it!

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



Go Big or Go Home: Upsize Your Wheels at West Texas Automotive

Posted January 15, 2018 09:27 AM

A lot of us Midland drivers like our vehicles to reflect our personalities. We're picky about color and body style. We'll customize anything from floor mats to window tints to license plates. One popular way for Texas motorists to customize a vehicle is to get new wheels.

Wheels come in thousands of designs. Custom wheels can add personality, style or sass to a vehicle. Many of these customizations involve getting a bigger wheel.

Fifteen or 16-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, but today, because a lot of Midland drivers like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with 17 or 18-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of 20 inches or more are also available in Midland.

If you want to upsize the wheels on your current vehicle, however, you should know it's not a do-it-yourself project. There are factors involved in ensuring your wheel change doesn't jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.

First of all, you need to understand rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is the overall height of a tire. If you increase the rolling diameter of your tires when you upsize your wheels, you may have to modify your suspension to make sure the larger tires fit in the space and don't rub in turns or over bumps. If that's more work than you're willing to do or pay for, then you need to maintain rolling diameter when you change your wheels.

It's not as hard as it sounds. Imagine a doughnut. That doughnut represents rolling diameter, so you can't make the doughnut bigger. However, you can increase the size of the doughnut hole. That gives you a bigger wheel. Tires with reduced sidewall on larger wheels will preserve your rolling diameter.

Rolling diameter is important because your wheels and tires still need to fit inside the wheel well. Also, your speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brakes are all programmed to work with a specific rolling diameter. You'll throw off the readings on your speedometer and odometer if you change your rolling diameter. And for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, your rolling diameter has to be within 3% of factory recommendations. While some Midland drivers who upsize may not be concerned about meter readings, throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.

Further, many vehicles in Midland are now equipped with electronically controlled suspensions. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as safety concerns.

Your friendly and knowledgeable West Texas Automotive tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle's computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.

So to maintain rolling diameter, you'll need tires with a shorter sidewall. These tires will be designed to give the sidewalls the strength they need to maintain ride quality. Consider that doughnut again. As the wheel (the doughnut hole) gets bigger, the sidewall of the tire (the width of remaining doughnut) gets shorter. That means the tire holds less air. The sidewalls have to be made stiffer to compensate for the decreased air capacity.

To improve their strength, the shorter tires will also be slightly wider than your previous tires. But this means you'll have a larger contact patch, or, in other words, a larger area of tire making contact with the road. This can actually increase your handling performance and decrease braking distances. Many Texas auto buffs customize their wheels just for this reason—they want the improved performance rather than looks or style. If you drive a truck or an SUV around Midland, you might be interested in the extra control an upsized wheel can provide.

Now, that larger contact patch still has to fit inside your wheel well without rubbing when cornering or when bouncing over bumps or potholes on Midland roads. This is termed fitment, and you may need a few adjustments so your new wheels will fit properly. You may need spacers so that your brakes will fit inside the new wheels, as well.

West Texas Automotive tire professionals are experts at mounting, adjusting and customizing wheels. They can give you a lot of good auto advice about wheels and tires and how they affect driving performance and car care. They can help you select wheels and tires that will suit your driving needs and habits.

For example, if you drive off-road around Midland, you should consider a higher profile tire. This type of tire will protect your rims from damage while you're bouncing over rocks. Or, if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads around Texas, you'll want a tire with a load rating equal to your demands. Your friendly and knowledgeable West Texas Automotive tire professional can help you with these types of concerns.

Once you've got your new wheels, have your service advisor at West Texas Automotive see if you need an alignment. You don't want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at West Texas Automotive in Midland.

Last but not least, remember tire pressure. With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and they'll need slightly higher pressure. You'll need to stay on top of preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to check their pressure at least once a week. If you don't keep your tires at their correct pressure, they will wear out really fast. It will also affect your braking and handling performance.

So smile and show off your vehicle around Texas. Make it all yours. Bumper stickers, vanity license plates, custom wheels — strut your stuff!

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



Why Wheel Balancing and Tire Rotation Save You Money on Tires

Posted November 07, 2017 09:55 AM



Midland drivers want their tires to last as long as possible. Two ways to extend tire life are wheel balancing and tire rotation.

When wheels are out of balance, they wobble and vibrate. That makes the tires wear in a cupping pattern. If a front wheel is out of balance you'll feel it in the steering wheel. If it's a rear wheel you'll feel it through your seat. To fix this, your technician at West Texas Automotive puts weights on your wheels to balance them out.

That brings us to tire rotation. The front tires on a vehicle wear out faster than the rear tires. As they push through turns, the shoulders of the front tires wear down. So rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate over the life of the tire.

Proper tire inflation will also help Midland folks' tires last longer. Underinflated tires wear more on the shoulder and may even overheat. This could cause tire damage or a blow out. Overinflated tires wear too fast in the middle.

Four-wheel-drive trucks and SUV's tend to wear their tires more unevenly so rotation is even more important with them. Give West Texas Automotive a call to get our recommendation for your vehicle.

See your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at West Texas Automotive for your recommended tire rotation schedule. It's usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, or 8,000 to 13,000 km.

Tires are among the most important safety components on your vehicle. Take care of them and they'll take care of you.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



Saving Lives in Midland with Tire Pressure

Posted September 03, 2017 06:13 AM



All new passenger vehicles on our Midland, Texas, roads now have tire pressure monitoring systems – TPMS for short. They are designed to alert you if your tires are underinflated. Since they are fairly new, a lot of people have questions about them.

First off, the most important thing is that you still need to check your tire pressure every week – or at least every time you gas up. The TPMS system alert comes in when your tire is 20 percent below the factory recommendation. So if the recommended pressure is 34 pounds per square inch, the TPMS warning won't come on until the pressure is at 28 pounds. That's significantly underinflated, enough to raise safety concerns.

The worst is tire failure. A severely underinflated tire can overheat and fail. Also, handling degrades to the point that you may not be able to steer out of trouble. Also underinflated tires wear out faster and they waste fuel. So it's costly to not stay on top of proper inflation.

What's the practical value of the TPMS system? Well, it's twofold. First, it can alert you when your tire is losing pressure due to a puncture or a bent rim. That's an important warning that you might not have gotten until next time you gassed up.

The second is that we all occasionally forget to check our tire pressure. So it's a fail-safe system to let you know there's a problem brewing.

Other things can cause your TPMS system to go off. The system also monitors itself. The sensors that are mounted in the wheels have little batteries that send a signal to the monitor. The batteries go dead over time and the TPMS system will let you know. And the sensors could break. Also road salt from our Texas roads can ruin them.

There's also a hassle factor that your Midland, Texas, tire center has to contend with. For example, when you have your tires rotated in Midland, the TPMS system has to be re-calibrated so that it knows which tire is on which corner of the car. Same is true for when you have new tires or winter tires installed. Flat repairs, as well.

That takes extra time. And it requires the right equipment and training. Special – and expensive – tire change machines need to be used with some sensors. It's all complicated by the fact that there are a number of different TPMS systems in use so the tire professionals at West Texas Automotive need equipment and training for each kind. Tire centers have had to raise the price of some of these basic services to offset their increased costs.

Also if you add custom wheels on your vehicle, you need to put in new TPMS sensors if your originals won't work on the new rims. If you don't your TPMS light will be on constantly and you won't have the benefit of the warning system.

All in all, the mandated TPMS systems will save lives, so they're worth the added hassle and expense.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://www.themobiletirestore.com



How Much is Enough for Midland Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

Posted July 11, 2017 07:44 AM

Most Midland drivers know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they're need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it's for Midland vehicle owners to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it's important to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with Texas auto safety laws. That's why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some Texas professionals are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Midland drivers immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire's contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road's surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can't shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Midland drivers since the vehicle won't stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime's depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 (1.6 mm) tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph (89 kph) when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let's suppose that you're on a busy Midland road in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn't bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph (89 kph). That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32 (3.2 mm)? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph (72 kph). Still not a good situation. But it's better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn't have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It's a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear be changed from 2/32 (1.6 mm) to 4/32 (3.2 mm). The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in Texas and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you'll have to decide whether you'll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use an American quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32 (3.2 mm). Place the quarter into the tread with George's head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn't cover George's hairline, you're under 4/32 (3.2 mm). With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe's head, it's at 2/32 (1.6 mm). Tires are super important when it comes to vehicle care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 in (3.2 mm) is good auto advice.

West Texas Automotive
4703 Andrews Hwy
Midland, Texas 79703
432-689-5414
http://themobiletirestore.autodealertips.com