7 Things to Know About Tires Before Hitting the Road

Women In Drive Event At Michelin
Michelin invited 21 Women in the automotive industry to their headquarters in Greenville, SC to learn more about tires, drive at their proving grounds and tour their factory facilities. Photo: Michelin

We all have tires on our cars, but how much do we know about them?

Honestly, they’ve always seemed like a necessary evil to drive my car until I learned a lot more about them. Last week, Michelin invited me and twenty other women in the auto industry to their headquarters to Tire School. We had the opportunity to learn more about tires, what actually goes into making them and how they actually make a difference in driving your car in all conditions.

So how much do you know about your tires? And what bad information have you been given over the years?

It’s time to learn more about your tires so you get a safe and comfortable drive in your car.

Throw it a Party – Tires have a Birthday! 

Facts About Your Tires Before Hitting The Road

There is information all over your tire including the birth date of your tire and a code that can tell you where your tire was made. Photo: Becky Fixel

If you look at the side of your tires on the outside there is information everywhere. From a code that can be used to track your tire back to the plant it was made at to an actual birthday (of sorts).

Look for a four-digit code on the side of your tire. The first two digits of the code tell you what week of the year the tire was made and the last two the year. The tires in the picture were made in the 39th week of 2017 – so late September.

You may have been told to ask for “fresh tires” when you purchase your tires. But don’t worry – most tires don’t dry out with age the way they used to. Michelin puts a stabilizing agent in their rubber compounds so that a tire that is a few years old is just as stable as one with a newer date. The only time to be concerned is if you are purchasing an older tire from 2012 or earlier.

Are your worn tires as good as your new tires? The truth about worn tires

Under Pressure – Your Tires Have a Breaking Point, Too

Every tire has an ideal pressure number that makes it a safer drive for you and your family. But not every car has tire pressure monitoring built in.

If you drive an older car there is an easy way to check out the ideal tire pressure for your car – just open your driver’s door! Inside the side of your driver’s door is a sticker that actually lists the pressure your tires should have.

Once you know that ideal tire pressure you need to check your tires every month. Why? Because the temperature changes outside make the pressure fluctuate. And if you have a rental car, always check those tires before you hit the road. They will most likely all be at different pressures and none close to what number they should be.

Why is the pressure so important? Tires under the right amount of pressure provide more grip or traction on the road. At any point while you’re driving your tire is only touching the road in a patch about the size of your palm or cell phone. You want to make sure your car is getting the support it needs from the tires.

What Does All that Mean on the Side of Your Tires?

Put that Penny Away – You Can Check your Tire Wear Just By Looking at Them

Facts About Your Tires Before Hitting The Road

Even on the treads, there are important design features like the wear bar, sipes, and groves. Photo: Becky Fixel

When you were learning to drive were you told to check your tire tread using a penny? There is an old trick that you can use a penny and see how much tire “life” is left on them. If you see too much of Abe’s head you need new tires.

Well, you can still do this – but Michelin has your back and makes it much easier for the generation that doesn’t carry cash. Your tire comes equipped with something called “wear bars” – or bars within the pattern that show when your tires may be getting unsafe. You can still drive on your tires if you see the wear bars, or wear indicators – but you don’t have as good traction on wet surfaces and may increase your chance of hydroplaning.

Patterns Aren’t Just for Clothing – Your Tire’s Design Has a Purpose

Facts About Your Tires Before Hitting The Road

Check your tire for the Michelin Man pointing to the location of the wear bar so you can see how much tread is left on your tire. Photo: Becky Fixel

Have you ever wondered why every tire has a different design? From design to market a tire actually takes several years and the tread pattern has a purpose. The smaller slashes are called sipes and squeegee water safely from the tire and groves help to channel water away as well as adapt to with different terrain. While some tire patterns look fancy, know that every pattern on your tire is there for a reason and the main one is to keep you safe while driving.

There’s a Lot to the Design of the Tire Treads!

Different Shoes for Different Weather – What Your Car Needs for the Conditions 

Facts About Your Tires Before Hitting The Road

There are over 200 different materials inside your Michelin tires! The actual formula is proprietary, but it’s not just rubber hitting the road. Photo: Becky Fixel

You wouldn’t wear stilettos to the beach, or flip flops in the snow. It’s the same with tires: Different types are designed for different conditions. Every part of your tire is planned out and heavily researched. That includes what actually goes into your tire when they make it. It’s not just rubber hitting the road while you’re driving.

Michelin has over 200 different materials in their tire construction and patented ways to build them. Some of these chemicals and materials are used to help you in adverse weather conditions.

If you’re lucky to live in a cold weather state you will know the importance of snow tires on ice and bad roads, and in fact in some places, such as Canada, winter tires are required by law during the cold months. All season tires are generally fine in more temperate climates.

Different tires aren’t just made so you spend more money – but can help keep you safer no matter what life throws at you.

New Tires on the Back? What About the Front?

We’ve all been there – we need new tires but can’t afford– or don’t need– a whole set. So where do you put the new tires?

For years we’ve been told we should put them on the front, especially if you have a front wheel drive car. But Michelin has found through research and several times around their test tracks that new tires on the back of the car give you better control of the vehicle even if you have a front wheel drive car.

Obviously, if you can get all four at once, do that. Newer tires should always be put on the back of the vehicle if you are only replacing two, and the two from the back should go on the front.

Don’t forget to rotate your tires ever 3000-5000 miles, or when you get your oil changed, to get the proper wear on all of your tires.

Why Should I Get New Tires? I’ll Just Replace Them When I Need To!

We all buy tires with a mile amount attached to them. Those 60,000 mile tires – we often replace them too late or too early. Are your tires bald? Have a bulge or slow leak? Then it’s definitely time to replace them.

One thing Michelin pointed out in Tire School – don’t replace them too early. You paid for those miles on those tires and they want you to get them, but safely. If you notice you aren’t able to stop safely or notice you’re hydroplaning – it’s time to look at replacing your tires.

Feel Confident Buying Your Tires!

Women In Drive Event At Michelin

Michelin invited 21 Women in the automotive industry to their headquarters in Greenville, SC to learn more about tires, drive at their proving grounds and tour their factory facilities. Photo: Michelin

Michelin makes tires for everything from agriculture equipment to luggage handling vehicles. Each and every tire is put through extensive testing and made specifically for safety and the end user in mind. While they know tires, they want their consumers to as well and know why you need the safe tires on your vehicle. From a more comfortable ride to safe driving during bad weather, make sure you know what you need to about your tires before you get back in the car!

One of the most important we learned in tire school that will change everything you think about them – Brakes don’t stop a car, they stop the tires. Tires stop the car! Stop safely and happy driving.

Win a New Set of Michelin Tires!!!

We are giving away a brand new set of Michelin tires. Just click to enter and you can enter more than once; contest rules are below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Rules:

Participants can enter to win a set of four Michelin Premier A/S or similar tires by submitting qualifying entries via RaffleCopter before midnight, June 7, 2018. No purchase necessary to enter. A single prize of one set of 4 tires will be given away. Prize has an approximate value of $500, is not exchangeable for cash or other items; the assignment of the exact prize is at the discretion of Michelin. Prize does not include installation, tire disposal fee, tire pressure monitoring system or other charges that may be incurred upon installation of tires. A single winner will be chosen at random from among valid entries. Contest open only to US residents. Winner will be notified by email or direct message by June 10, 2018. If a chosen winner fails to respond to notification within seven (7) days that winner will be disqualified and a new winner will be chosen. Winners must provide a valid US shipping address, not a PO Box, for prize shipment and may be asked to provide other information, such as type of vehicle or tire size. Void where prohibited and subject to applicable law.

Disclaimer: I was Michelin’s guest at the company’s Greenville, South Carolina headquarters; travel and accommodations were provided. All opinions in this post are my own.


Becky is Content Creator in metro-Detroit. She is also an interior designer, a former adjunct professor, a gluten free... More about Becky Fixel