They’re the automotive equivalent of Rodney Dangerfield, but while tires typically “get no respect,’ they should, because arguably no single part of your car has a bigger influence over matters ranging from performance to mileage – and especially your safety.
Today’s car is a high-tech wonder, with some models featuring more than a dozen different computer systems onboard. Yet the tire is decidedly low-tech, or so you might think. In reality, rubber companies have invested billions into computer-aided design and manufacturing systems designed to improve the performance of those four black donuts at the corners of your car.
The latest designs last far longer than the tires of a generation ago. They also achieve the seemingly impossible: giving you both a better grip on the road while reducing what the industry calls “rolling resistance.” In layman’s terms, that translates into better mileage.
In the wake of the Firestone/Ford fiasco, in which 280 deaths were linked to tire failures on Explorer SUVs, federal regulators ordered the use of tire pressure monitoring systems designed to alert motorists when tires lose pressure.