As summer vacation season reaches its peak, Nokian Tyres is reminding travelers to check the air pressure and condition of their tires before hitting the road.
“While this simple step provides both the safest and most fuel-efficient travel, most drivers fail to make it part of their travel checklist, and the consequences could be serious,” according to the tiremaker.
During the summer travel season, tires are subjected to a number of significant stresses in the form of high summer temperatures, heavy luggage, long trips and high speeds, all of which can lead to potential failure.
According to the 2008 German Automobile Association ADAC breakdown statistics, 7% of all breakdowns are caused by defective tires and wheels.
Based on ADAC’s road tests, if the tire pressure of a front wheel is 15 psi below recommended levels, the braking distance increases by 10% on wet roads. If all tires have an inflation pressure of 15 pdi too low, the lateral grip of the tires is reduced to nearly half (55%) of their normal functionality. The risk continues to escalate the heavier the load a vehicle is carrying, Nokian said.
“On the other hand, when tire pressure is too high, safety is also a concern: the contact area becomes narrower leading to less road grip, which can cause the tire to only wear in the center,” the tiremaker said.
Nokian noted its tires include a Driving Safety Indicator, which shows the groove depth as a number between 8 and 2. An aquaplaning indicator warns of hydroplaning with a water drop symbol. It fades when the remaining profile is down to 4/32nds, which indicates a statistically higher risk. To avoid aquaplaning and to have a short enough braking distance on wet roads, the main grooves must have a minimum depth of 4/32nds.
In addition to raising safety concerns, tires with low air pressure increase fuel consumption. With pressure only 0.4 lower than necessary, a car consumes 2% more fuel on average, and the wear of the tire is 30% higher. “Proper inflation not only increases fuel efficiency, it dramatically improves the life expectancy of the tire. For additional fuel efficiency, consumers should also consider using tires designed to be eco-friendly, especially for long trips,” Nokian said.
“Low rolling resistance eco-friendly tires like the Nokian H or even UHP tires with relatively low rolling resistance like the Nokian Z G2 can save up to half a gallon of gas in roughly 250 miles,” said Teppo Huovila, vice president of research and development. “A rolling resistance that is lowered by 40% saves 6% in fuel.”
Because they improve fuel efficiency, eco-friendly tires also produce less CO2 emissions. Strategically designed to address today’s environmental concerns, both the Nokian H and the Nokian Z G2 premium tires were rated “highly recommended” by the ADAC test, according to the tiremaker.
Before You Go
While drivers should routinely make examinations of each tire, it is especially important to do so several days before a vacation or long trip to allow adequate time to make any necessary adjustments or tire changes. Air pressure should always be checked on cold tires and tires should be filled to a higher pressure when carrying a heavy load. To find the correct inflation pressures, drivers should refer to the information inside their gas tank door or in their car’s instruction manual.