Steering Problems Could Signal Tire Trouble

Winter driving becomes tricky when roads are wet and slick. The problem is worse if your vehicle is riding on damaged tires.
Bald spots in tires and uneven tread wear make your vehicle harder to control. The culprit may be something simple such as an underinflated tire.
Underinflated tires can cause uneven wear and descrease tire life.  Tire experts recommend a visual inspection every month to identify warning signs--cuts, scrapes and unusal wear patterns.
Problems caused by underinflation tend to go unchecked because tires may look fine. The issue is especially common in winter when colder temperatures condense air inside the tire.
Left unattended, underinflated tires can cause problems with suspension and alignment. Underinflation also reduces fuel efficiency and increases likelihood of a blowout if the vehicle is riding on the sidewall. 
Did your vehicle hit a curb or run over a pothole? A bulge on any part of the tire indicates permanent damage and also may lead to a blowout.
Tire experts offer the following tips to help prevent tire problems: 
  • Does your steering wheel vibrate as it accelerates to freeway speed? Check tires for proper inflation and ask your service advisor to check tire balance. Both problems lead to uneven tire wear and bald spots.
  • Are you getting lower miles per gallon than usual? Underinflation of tires may be contributing to the problem.
  • Notice a bulge in the tire sidewall? This is a dangerous problem and your tire needs to be replaced immediately before it has a blowout.
  • Has your vehicle encountered any potholes or curbs at high speed? Ask your advisor to inspect the tire and the look for damage on the inside lining.
  • Does one tire require air more than the others? A puncture or damage to the stem could cause a slow leak and leave you stranded.
  • Do you notice bald spots? The tires may be unbalanced and need to be inspected.
  • When was the last time you checked the spare tire? It's an oft-neglected but important safety component of your vehicle.