September 27, 2023

Every Bicycle Tire

Rolling And Moving

Your Questions Answered: Tires and tire care – Driving

10 min read

Tire experts explain do’s and dont’s to get the best life and performance from your tires

Article content

For a long list of reasons, your tires are pretty much the most important part of your car or truck. That’s why knowing how to properly care for them, as well as how to identify potential tire-related problems, is an important part of owning a vehicle. 

Advertisement 2

Story continues below

Article content

A regular tire-care regimen that includes pressure checks, inspections, and rotations can help improve the efficiency and performance of your vehicle, extend the life of your tires, and ultimately save you money. 

According to 2021 information from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), an alarming number of Canadians are making some pretty serious mistakes when it comes to checking and adjusting tire pressures. You can read more about that here.

When it comes to understanding how to keep your tires healthy and fit, there are no stupid questions. 

Below, I asked some experts to chime in and help me answer 12 of the internet’s most common web searches about tires and tire care.

  1. Canadians make these tire care mistakes the most often

    Canadians make these tire care mistakes the most often

  2. Troubleshooter: Mismatched tires — it's not just the size that matters

    Troubleshooter: Mismatched tires — it’s not just the size that matters

Advertisement 3

Story continues below

Article content

Is it bad for your tires to park on a curb?

If you have to park on the curb, make sure the entire tire is on the curb,” says Russell Shepherd, Technical Communications Director at Michelin.

“If it’s only partially on the curb, it may cause localized flat spotting. Your tires are the only point of contact that your vehicle has with the road so it’s important to establish good driving habits and to make sure your tires are always in good working condition to help keep you safe.”

Why are some tires noisier than others?

“Tire noise is an aspect of design that tire engineers are always trying to mitigate,” says Steve Bourssa, Nokian Tyres Director of Products and Pricing.  

“Typically, the more aggressive a tire design, the noisier it will be. Tires designed for improved wet and snow grip will be noisier than summer-only tires. Moreover, tires designed for off-road use will be noisier than wet/snow tires, including tires designed for use in mud which are often the loudest tires on the market.  

Advertisement 4

Story continues below

Article content

These special application mud tires have large tread blocks that produce a distinctive noise every time a particular tread block lands on the asphalt.  These are the most difficult to noises to mitigate without taking away the traction capabilities the tire was intended for.”

Dial-style tire pressure gauge
Dial-style tire pressure gauge Photo by Getty

Should all of my tires have the same pressure?

“All four tires should typically be inflated to the recommended pressure level, which drivers can find in their owner’s manual and driver’s-side doorsill or behind the fuel door — but there are exceptions to this rule,” says an expert from GM Canada. 

“Generally, if tires are inflated to inconsistent levels, they’re more likely to wear unevenly and cause suboptimal handling plus increased blowout risk. Tire pressure also falls as temperatures drop, so drivers should check their tires’ inflation more frequently during seasons when weather fluctuates.

Advertisement 5

Story continues below

Article content

There are exceptions, though. Many trucks, for example, call for 80 psi rear and 60 front to account for the load anticipated on the rear axle of the vehicle. It’s important to check the tire placard to understand the recommended tire pressure for a given vehicle.”

What does profile mean on tires?

“Profile refers to the height of a tire’s sidewall,” says Steve Bourassa.

“It’s important to drive tires with the right sidewall height and recommended size for a driver’s vehicle. Deviating from that recommended size can result in rubbing against the wheel well, lower fuel efficiency, and even inaccurate readings from the speedometer or odometer. Tire diameter can also impact the performance of sensitive electronic devices in the vehicle, affecting ABS and vehicle stability systems.”

Advertisement 6

Story continues below

Article content

Tread depth indicators measure the remaining life of a tire
Tread depth indicators measure the remaining life of a tire Photo by Getty

How long do tires usually last?

“Tires are typically warrantied to last anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 miles (64,000 to 160,000 kilometres),” explains an expert from GM Canada.

“A variety of factors can determine whether they last up to their warrantied tread life, including whether they are properly inflated, regularly rotated, and frequently inspected for damage. Proper vehicle alignment is also important to ensuring that tires wear evenly. When choosing a tire, drivers should pay attention to more factors than just the tread life warranty, as some tires last so long because they consist of rubber compounds that are less responsive to the road. It’s important to pick a tire that balances durability with good grip and handling.”

Advertisement 7

Story continues below

Article content

“Tire life is a function of many factors such as use, compound, maintenance and rotation schedule. Tire condition (most commonly wear), and tire age are the two main factors. Tire manufacturers and OEM service centres can recommend when to replace tires. Most tires are designed to last 6-10 years or 60,000-100,000 km in normal use.”

Is it bad to put different tires on your car?

According to a representative from GM Canada, “OEMs tailor their vehicle performance with a specific tire/tires in mind as they design and validate. Often, OEMs will create a specification for tires that is unique from aftermarket tires. For example, General Motors adds a TPC (Tire Performance Criteria) identifier spec number on the sidewall of the tire indicating it meets GM’s specifications. This is used to optimize and match replacement or snow tires to the vehicle.”

Advertisement 8

Story continues below

Article content

“Using a different tire than specified is common in the aftermarket, but could lead to concerns like reduced fuel economy, inaccurate speedometer, road noise, unusual wear, reduced braking, suspension and steering performance, etc. It is important that all of the tires are appropriate for your vehicle and your driving habits/conditions.”

Dial-style tire pressure gauge
Dial-style tire pressure gauge Photo by Getty

Is it normal for my tire pressure to fluctuate?

Yes. As temperature levels change, so does the air pressure in your tires,” explains Shepherd. 

“The pressure can also fluctuate if there is an air leak in your tires. Generally, tires have been known to lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) each month.  It is recommended that drivers check their tire pressure — including the pressure of a spare tire — once a month, or before a long road trip by using a tire pressure gauge. For best results, check your tire pressure when tires are cool — at least two hours after driving, before driving the car, or if it has covered fewer than 5 kilometres at low speed. The recommended air pressure can vary by vehicle, so it’s important that you compare the measured psi to the sticker inside the driver’s door of your vehicle or in the owner’s manual.”

Advertisement 9

Story continues below

Article content

Check the tire pressure with a Tire-Pressure Gauge
Check the tire pressure with a Tire-Pressure Gauge Photo by Getty

Is it normal for my tires to lose air?

“It is normal for the tire pressure to fluctuate, but if you find your tires are losing air frequently there may be a larger issue” says Shepherd. 

“A tire loses pressure naturally — approximately 1 psi (pounds per square inch) each month — depending on the temperature, but can be accelerated for reasons such as air leaks due to accidental puncture, leaks in the valve or valve cap, or by wheel malfunction.”

“Regular inspections can help you prevent tire trouble and keep you rolling safely down the road. Michelin recommends inspecting your tires once a month, or before you go on a long road trip. When inspecting your tire, some things you should look for include damaged areas such as cracks, cuts, splits, punctures or holes in the tread or on the sides of the tire, or troublemakers like small stones, pieces of glass or bits of metal. Any time you see damage to a tire, don’t drive on it and use a spare if you need to go somewhere. If you’re on the road and notice vibrations or other disturbances while driving, or if you suspect possible damage to your tire or vehicle, immediately reduce speed, drive with caution until you can safely pull off the road and stop, and inspect your tires.”

Advertisement 10

Story continues below

Article content

Tire puncture
Tire puncture Photo by Getty

Can tires save you money on gas?

There are many factors that contribute to fuel consumption, and having the right set of tires for your vehicle can make a big difference,” explains Shepherd. 

“One of the main factors is rolling resistance, which is the force needed to get the tire rolling from a stopped position. Low rolling resistance means less force is required to move the tire, which can translate into less fuel consumption. The lower the rolling resistance, the less effort from your engine, the better the gas mileage. The same principle holds true for electric vehicles — the lower the rolling resistance, the greater your range.”

If you are in the market to purchase tires, choose tires that list ‘fuel economy’ as one of their main performance characteristics. Fuel-efficient tires are designed and engineered to provide low rolling resistance and better fuel efficiency, which can help save you money on gas. 

Advertisement 11

Story continues below

Article content

Porsche Macan
Porsche Macan Photo by Justin Pritchard

Is it bad for your tires to park on snow or in water?

“When it comes to tires, parking on a little snow or water is not an issue,” says Chris Leslie, Manager of OK Tire Dartmouth-Portland, NS. 

“Tires are made from materials that are highly resistant to water and don’t suffer the same fate as metal rusting away, for example.”

Do unbalanced tires cause tire wear?

“Definitely! Unbalanced wheels are the leading cause in uneven tread wear since they put more stress on your tires, which are not designed to withstand such stress,” explains Leslie.  

“The other major sign that you are suffering from unbalanced tires is vibration. Vibrations are harmful to your tire and premature tire wear is inevitable, causing flat spots on the tread area. An unbalanced tire can also cause a drivability issue making it hard to control your vehicle. If that is the case, you should bring your vehicle in as soon as possible to avoid causing premature wear on your tires.”

Advertisement 12

Story continues below

Article content

Wheel balancing is a quick an inexpensive task, and is usually completed while you wait.

Wheel balancing
Wheel balancing Photo by Getty

Is it normal for my tire to have a bubble?

“Bubbles in tires are always bad news,” Bourassa explains.

“These typically result from an impact to the tire that has damaged the internal structure of the tire, most commonly the polyester cords or inner liner.  Driving on a tire with a damaged structure is not safe and should be replaced as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it is not possible to repair this type of damage.”

How are flat tires repaired?

“The process of repairing a flat tire is fairly simple, however it needs to be done by a qualified technician to ensure it is done according to the manufacturer’s guidelines,” explains Neil Webster, Manager of OK Tire in Dartmouth, NS.

“It also ensures the longevity of the repair. In summary, the tire is removed from the wheel and a plug with a patch is attached and pushed through the tread, from the inside of the tire. A sealant is then used to keep the rubber plug and patch firmly in place. After repairs, the tire is now ready to go back on the road for normal use.”

Justin Pritchard picture

Justin Pritchard

Justin Pritchard is a Sudbury, Ontario based automotive journalist and award-winning presenter, photographer, videographer and technical writer. Every week, Justin uses his keyboard, voice and cameras to share his latest automotive reviews and discoveries with his audience, via multiple Canadian television programs, print and online publications.


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.