What Happens When Tires Overheat?

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If you’ve ever driven a car with worn-out tires, you know how important it is to replace them. But have you considered what happens when tires overheat? In this blog post, we will discuss the dangers of tires that have overheated, tell you what to look out for and tips on how to avoid this dangerous situation.

How Do High Temperatures Affect Tires?

When tires overheat, it cause a number of issues. High tire temperatures cause tires to wear down extremely fast, can cause numerous issues affecting the condition of the tire tread and can potentially lead to blowouts.

Tire overheat can also cause serious problems with the tire’s structure and integrity. The heat can cause the tire’s internal steel belts to weaken, which can lead to tread separation. The heat can also cause the rubber in the tires to break down, which can lead to a tire blowout.

A blowout is when the tire bursts and can cause the driver to lose control of the car. In some cases, a blowout can even cause the car to flip over.

What Happens When Tires Overheat

Tires are designed to dissipate heat, but if they are driven too hard or on hot surfaces for too long, they will reach temperatures that exceed their limits and overheat. This can happen on long trips, in stop-and-go traffic, or even on short drives if the tires are not properly inflated.

It is also a concern faced often by racing drivers and anyone driving on a hot day. There are a few different things that will likely happen when your tires overheat.

Increased Tire Pressure

The first thing that happens when a tire overheats is the tire pressure will increase.

It has been calculated that for every 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) that the temperature rises, the tire pressure increases by 1 PSI. This may not sound like much but even small changes in tire pressure can have a dramatic impact on how your car handles and behaves.

As the pressure increases, the tire can become misshapen and start to bulge. This can cause very obvious visual issues including tire bulging, tire bubbles as well as blistering and swelling. If this happens and the inside tire pressure gets too high, the tire is at risk of exploding. This is extremely dangerous as it can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Decreased performance and grip

When a tire overheats, it will cause the tire to behave differently on the road. Tires are designed with an optimum working temperature in mind and when they overheat, their performance will suffer. They will no longer grip the road as well, meaning the driver will have less control over the vehicle.

This can be extremely dangerous, especially if the driver is going fast or is in a difficult driving situation. This coupled with the increase in tire pressure may also mean that the tire does not make proper contact with the road. This reduced contact patch will further negatively affect the cars handling and drivability.

It is therefore extremely important that if you do find yourself driving with overheated tires, you take preventative steps to remedy the situation.

What Causes Tires to Overheat?

There are a few different things that can cause tires to overheat. All tires will heat up while being driven on due to friction between the tire and the road. However, there are other reasons which can cause the tire to heat up beyond its designed temperature range.

Hot Weather

One of the main reasons that tires overheat is because of hot weather. Because tires are black, they absorb heat from the sun which can cause them to get quite hot, even when the car is parked.

When this hot weather is combined with driving, it can cause the tires to overheat quite easily, especially in areas known for their hot weather. Roads in these areas can also get very hot, to the point at which the tarmac begins to melt, further exacerbating the problem.

Overinflation

Another common cause of tire overheating is over inflation. This means that there is too much air in the tire and not enough contact with the road. This can cause the tire to heat up quite quickly as there is less surface area in contact with the road to dissipate the heat.

Driving too fast or aggressively

Another cause of tire overheating is driving too fast or aggressively. Aggressive driving will increase the amount of friction and force which a tire will experience. This is why it is important to drive within the speed limit and to take corners at a steady speed. This will help your tires wear evenly and prevent them from overheating.

Under inflation

Another potential reason that tires overheat is because of under inflation. Tires that are underinflated will ride along the road improperly and have more contact with the road. This will cause the tires to experience an increased amount of friction and heat up the tires. It will also increase rolling resistance and cause the tires to underperform and be unsafe and unfit for purpose.

Driving for long periods

Another cause of overheating is driving for too long without a break. This can happen on long road trips or in stop-and-go traffic. The tires will have less opportunity to cool down and as a result, will can lead to overheating.

Symptoms of overheating tires

It is important to be able to know when a tire is overheating. This way, you can take the necessary steps to cool it down and avoid any potential accidents. There are a few different symptoms of overheating tires which you should be aware of.

Tire hot to the touch

Tires are designed to warm up and have an optimum temperature of around 120 degrees fahrenheit or 50 degrees celsius. However if you find that you can’t keep your hand on the tire for more than a few seconds, then it is likely that the tire is overheating.

Smoke coming from the tires

If you see smoke coming from your tires, then this is a sure sign that they are overheating and you need to take action immediately. Smoke from tires is caused by the rubber heating up to a point where the rubber begins to melt and the chemicals and oils within it begin to evaporate. This is then seen as the white smoke coming from the tire.

Graining

An obvious sign that tires are overheating is when you see “graining” on the surface of the tire. Graining looks like small pieces of rubber that have been torn off the tire. This happens when the tire gets so hot that the tread starts to separate from the rest of the tire.

Graining is commonly seen on race car tires and formula one cars. The reason that graining happens is because the tires experience a huge amount of force during a race and are designed to be used at temperatures exceeding 100 degree celsius. These high temperatures soften the tire and means that the tires wear extremely fast.

Graining can also happen on passenger vehicles if they are driven too hard or on hot surfaces for too long. If you see graining on your tires, it is an indication that they are overheating and you should pull over and allow them to cool down.

Blistering

Blistering is another sign that tires are overheating. Blistering happens when the heat causes the tire to deform and bubble up. This can happen on both the sidewall and tread of the tire.

Blistering is dangerous as it weakens the tire and can cause a blowout. If you see blistering on your tires, you should pull over and allow them to cool down. This is another common issue for high powered race cars and formula 1 cars which generate high amounts of downforce, putting extra weight and stress on its tires.

Swelling

Swelling is another sign of overheating tires. Swelling happens when the tire expands due to the heat. This can cause the tire to bulge and deform. Swelling is dangerous as it can cause a blowout. If you see swelling on your tires, you should pull over and allow them to cool down before continuing your journey.

Excessive Tread Wear

Hard driving on tires that are already hot is likely to cause the tread to wear away at an excessively rate. This means that tires will need to be replaced more often. If you notice that your tires are wearing down faster than usual, it could be a sign that they are overheating regularly.

This can be due to the environment with hot outdoor weather and road temperatures, incorrect tire pressures as well as a very aggressive driving style which puts more stress and therefore more friction and heat into the tire. Managing these variables will help reduce your tire wear rate.

Tearing

Tire tearing is when the heat causes the tire to split or crack. It is a more extreme version of tire graining. Whereas graining is is lots of small pieces of the tire peeling away, tearing is same but with longer and larger pieces of rubber that tear away and then fused back onto the hot tire. This is a sign that the tire has been experiencing too much heat in that particular area.

This is extremely dangerous as it can cause a blowout. If you see tearing on your tires, you should pull over and allow them to cool down.

Excessive Pick Up

Pick up is the name for when tires drive over and “pick up” debris off the road. This is common on all vehicles, especially when the tires have warmed up and the tire compound is soft and more sticky. When a tire overheats, it becomes more sticky and therefore picks up more debris off the road.

This excessive pick up of debris from the street adhering to the tire surface leaves the tire with a lumpy surface. If you see excessive pick up on your tires, this is a sign that your tires are overheating and steps should be taken to reduce their temperature.

During a race, tires will often “pick up” pieces of debris from the track. This is usually pieces of other tires which have worn off other vehicles as well as other bits of debris that can be found littering the track such as stones, gravel or even bits of other cars that have come off during the race.

This is dangerous as it can cause a puncture or a tire blowout. If you see excessive pick up on your tires, you should pull over and check them for any damage.

Blue Tires

Blue tires are a sign of heat cycles. Heat cycling is when the tire is heated up and then cooled down multiple times. This happens when tires are driven hard and then allowed to cool down. This is caused by the result of the oils and chemicals inside the tire compound coming out of the tire and over time, this will cause the tire to turn blue.

This is not dangerous in itself but it is a sign that the tire has been overheat and been through a heat cycle multiple times and is starting to break down. If you see blue tires, you should check the condition and hardness of the tire and if necessary, replace them.

How to prevent overheating tires

  • Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated 
  • Allow your tires to cool down with short breaks when taking a long drive
  • Replace Worn Tires 
  • Stay Within the Speed Limit and avoid heavy acceleration and braking 
  • Pay attention to load weight and distribution as heavier vehicles put more stress on their tires
  • Park your vehicle out of direct sunlight

Conclusion

If you think your tires are overheating, pull over to the side of the road and let them cool down. Do not drive on overheated tires.

Overheating tires is a problem that can be avoided with proper maintenance and careful driving. By keeping an eye on the condition of your tires, you can prevent them from overheating and avoid a blowout.

Now you know what happens when tires overheat and what to look for. If you take the proper precautions, you can avoid tire damage and keep yourself safe on the road.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!

How long does it take for tires to overheat?

When setting off for the first time, it takes around 20 minutes of normal driving to get your tires up to operating speeds. Aggressive driving or other factors such as hot weather can speed this up and cause your tires to overheat just as fast, or sometimes even sooner!

How long do overheating tires take to cool down?

Once you have parked your vehicle, it takes around 2 hours for your tires to return to the normal outside ambient temperature.

Should I let hot air out of my tires?

We would not recommend letting hot air out of your overheating tires to reduce their air pressure as once the tires cool down, they are likely to be under-inflated which can cause other issues.

How do I stop my tires from overheating?

The easiest way is to slow down. This will reduce the amount of friction and stress that your tires will experience, reducing the amount of heat generated.

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