As you drive around the city, you have a lot on your mind. Your to-do list is in hand – stop by the dry cleaners, pick up groceries, grab a coffee to go. How much can you do between meetings, or before you have to pick the kids up from school? Your daily list goes on and on.
You probably don’t think much about your car. Yet eventually, your car won’t act “normal.” Something will seem a bit off. It’ll make a strange noise. It won’t handle the way it has in the past.
For some issues, it’s not a big deal. You can drive for a while with only minor inconvenience. But what about if you notice your car isn’t stopping like it once did?
Logically, if you want to give your car better braking ability, you assume it means installing new brakes. Your brake system is responsible for turning kinetic energy from your moving car into heat. If the brakes aren’t operating the way they should, that process won’t work the way it’s supposed to.
Can tires affect brakes?
But it’s more than the brake system that gives your car the ability to stop. Tires play their part too. The brakes may be the one part that give your car control and help you slow down, but without the tires, you wouldn’t have the quickness and stability that you do.
All of today’s passenger cars have anti-lock braking systems, also known as ABS. ABS prevents your wheels from locking up when you hard brake. This gives you control in emergency situations. Otherwise, when you pounce on the brakes and your front wheels lock up, you’d lose the ability to steer where you want to go.
If you’ve ever pressed down on your brake pedal with urgency, you’ll hear the ABS pump working. You’ll feel the ABS vibrating through the brake pedal as the system works to create the right amount of pressure to each wheel.
ABS tells the overall braking system that the wheel has stopped rotating, but the tire can’t keep up with the force. Your braking system is perfectly happy to keep applying pressure to stop the rotation of the wheel. But if your tires are capable of withstanding the pressure, more pressure serves no purpose. Your tires will be the problem in the process.
So, tires control braking instead of the brake system?
No, not exactly. The two go hand in hand. Your brakes would continue to work with or without tires in place. It’s the safety and ride that are impacted by tires. While the wheels, calipers, rotors, and brake pads all play their part in how your vehicle stops, tire grip also plays a role. No matter how good of a braking system you install in your car, the stopping power will only be as good as how the tires connect to the road.
Can bald tires affect braking?
One of the most dangerous things you can do is to drive on bald tires. According to the Crash causation Survey of the NHTSA, 9 percent of all crashes were based on tire-related issues. While bald tires aren’t the only thing attributed to increased risk factors, it is a significant characteristic that can increase the likelihood of an accident, especially when you add in road conditions commonplace across the Front Range.
It’s the tires that keep you on the road. The amount of tread left on the tires plays an integral part in how well it grips the road. Even in the best of circumstances, the available traction is what keeps your car safe as pick up speed or stop. As conditions change, your risk factors quickly escalate.
Bald tires on dry roads are at an increased risk of a blowout. As the tread wears away, the tire’s structure also becomes thinner and more at risk. It makes it easier to puncture, and if the tire is filled with too much air, it’s at an increased risk for failure as you pick up speed.
When you add in wet road conditions, you also increase the risk of hydroplaning. The tread pattern in a tire helps channel away water. As the tread wears down, it can no longer move water away from the tire, creating tension between the road and the tire. Your stopping distance expands exponentially, as well as your chances of skidding out of control.
Now let’s add in snow and icy conditions, something that’s commonplace here in Denver. Without proper tread, you are essentially at the mercy of the icy road. You’ll slide along on the surface no matter what condition your brakes are in.
Of course, it’s not just ice and snow that can impact your car. The heat of the summer has its problems too. A tire’s tread actually works to prevent massive heat buildup as you move down the street. As temperatures climb towards triple digits in the summer, balding tires have no way to dissipate the heat of the air flow, cooling your tires. When tires overheat, they are at increased risk for blowouts.
Will my car ride better with new tires?
The obvious answer is: yes. When you install new tires onto your vehicle, you’ll have better performance from the moment you take it out onto the street. They’ll have more tread, more grip, and provide you with a smoother ride.
Of course, it ultimately depends on the problem you were trying to correct.
Tires affect the braking system, but the two are separate parts to your car. You can’t stop without quality tires in place. You can’t stop unless your braking system is working the way it should. The two have equal bearing on the safety and handling of your car.
If your vehicle isn’t stopping the way it should and you aren’t sure where the problem lies, the best place to start is with an inspection. We can look over your entire system and determine what’s preventing you from driving as your car is intended to perform. Together we can make your car a safer, more reliable tool to help you get through your busy days.