Tires. They’re kind of a big deal. An integral part of any vehicle, tires are your car's first point of contact with the open road. But your tires deal with a lot during your travels, often encountering obstacles and road debris that can cause flats and other damage—which can affect your car’s handling. In fact, every time your tires come into contact with debris and other road hazards—such as salts, chemicals, trash, and small rocks—they sustain some wear and tear.
Whether you're navigating city streets or driving through the countryside, it’s likely you’ll encounter some kind of damage-inducing hazard like gravel, uneven seams and steel plates. And even if you get lucky and road debris doesn’t puncture your car’s tires, it can still cause them to wear down unevenly.
Obviously it’s best to avoid obstacles as much as you can, but sometimes it can be too late. Here’s a list of a few common hazards and ways to avoid them in order to protect your tires against road debris.
Trees and branches
Broken branches lying on roads pose a serious hazard to drivers and tires, and sharp pieces can easily pierce through your tires. But because broken trees and branches are usually visible from a distance, avoiding them is a lot easier than smaller bits of debris. When driving, try to look as far ahead as you can. If you see a fallen tree or branch, slow down and change lanes safely away from debris. And be extra careful while driving in the rain since visibility is low and surfaces become more slick.
Do your best to avoid driving over broken glass. The type of damage sustained to a car’s tires depends on the type of glass and the length/size of shards, but broken glass can puncture your tires, causing a flat or a blowout. And if glass pieces weasel their way inside your tire, it can create openings for dirt and moisture.
Don’t swerve or brake suddenly to avoid broken glass on the road. Slow down gradually and safely, and if you want to change lanes, make sure to use your turn signals. Most importantly, look ahead for dangers and avoid distractions.
Potholes are your car’s worst enemy. Hitting a pothole can puncture your tire and, in a worst-case scenario, can cause long-term damage such as excessive wear, steering system misalignment, suspension damage, and bulging sidewalls. Yeesh.
When you see a pothole ahead of you, slow down and try to safely drive around it. And whether it’s wet or dry outside, be careful approaching puddles of water as they can be potholes in a watery disguise. Lastly, always keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level as an under-inflated tire may not have enough resistance to withstand potholes.