To avoid frequent replacement costs and incidents, vehicle owners should take good care of their tires. This includes making sure they don’t get overheated while driving.
If you often drive in hot summers and smell burning rubber while driving, you may be wondering – how hot do tires get on the road? Here’s what I have found out!
How Hot Do Tires Get On The Road?
Tires normally heat up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit more than the ambient temperature after driving on a highway for 30 minutes. Above 195 degrees Fahrenheit, tires wear out rapidly and lose strength, and may even explode if the temperature crosses 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you want to learn more about what a high tire temperature is, why tires get hot while driving, how it affects the inflation temperature, and much more, keep on reading!
What Is A High Tire Temperature?
The temperature at which your tires start to take serious damage and experience rapid wear is 195 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius).
Not taking measures to control the temperature and keep it below this range can drastically reduce the tire’s lifespan.
Note that if the temperature rises further and crosses 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121.1 degrees Celsius), the tire will start to lose its structural strength, and may even explode.
Why Do Tires Get Hot While Driving?
Before we learn how to keep tires from getting too hot on the road, it is important to understand why tires get hot when driving.
Tires are made of hollow rubber which is filled with air. When the tire makes contact with the road and experiences friction, the air molecules inside begin to move faster.
So the air pressure exerted from inside and the friction the rubber experiences from outside due to contact with the road generates a lot of heat.
The more friction is caused by these two factors, the more the temperature of the tires rises.
Along with this, other factors that cause tires to get hot while driving includes weight overload, high-speed turns, and braking to a stop at high speeds.
In all of these cases, the tires experience a greater amount of friction in a short period of time, which generates a lot of heat and causes the temperature of the tires to go up.
What Does Tire Temperature Rating Tell You?
Tire manufacturers assign temperature ratings of A, B, and C to tires, depending on how much heat tires can withstand at high speeds:
- A is the highest rating, and tires of this grade can easily dissipate heat up to high speeds of 115 mph (185 kph)
- B is the average temperature rating, indicating that tires in this category can dissipate heat at a maximum speed of around 100 mph (161 kph)
- C is the lowest temperature rating available in the market, and tires of this grade work well to the maximum speed of 85 mph (137 kph)
If you cross the maximum speed for each rating, the tires will generate more heat than they can dissipate, causing overheating and a rapid reduction of the tire’s structural strength.
Can Tires Explode From Heat?
High temperatures (above 250 degrees Fahrenheit) can cause tires to explode, as mentioned earlier.
This happens because the inflation pressure of a tire increases as its temperature rises.
When tires get hot, the air molecules take more space, colliding more often with each other and the tire walls. This results in the tire getting inflated beyond the recommended limit.
So if the pressure exceeds the safe range, the tires are very likely to burst.
How Hot Do The Tires of Racing Cars Get?
The case with racing cars is a bit different from normal vehicles because they are designed to move at very high speeds, causing more friction and temperature rise.
Like other tires, the tires of racing cars also degrade and wear down at high temperatures. However, their grip also increases with temperature up to a certain point.
Because of this, the driver has to balance carefully between the ideal grip and degradation the tires can tolerate.
A sweet spot where tires deliver a high grip with moderate degradation is around 85-90 degrees Celsius (185 – 194 degrees Fahrenheit).
However, if the cars are competing in a sprint race, the driver may choose to go as high as 95 degrees Celsius (203 degrees Fahrenheit) for better grip at the cost of more degradation.
How Do You Know If Your Tires Are Overheated?
The two most important physical indicators of an overheated tire are that the tire will be hot to touch, and the pressure gauge will show over-inflation.
Note that the normal inflation pressure for tires is between 32 to 35 psi, so if the inflation pressure is way above this range, your tire may be overheating.
What Should You Do To Prevent Your Tires From Overheating?
If you live in a region that experiences hot summers, tire overheating is likely to be a very common issue.
To deal with this effectively, the first thing to take care of is the inflation pressure.
Make sure that the tires are inflated to the recommended (not maximum) pressure using a pressure gauge before you drive your vehicle.
The maximum inflation pressure for a tire is usually mentioned on its sidewall, while the recommended is around 33 psi. Ideally, you should stay well below the maximum pressure.
Keep in mind that the recommended inflation pressure and the guidelines above apply to cold tires, i.e. those that are not overheated.
If the tires are hot, you should inflate them to 4 psi higher than the recommended pressure, and check the pressure again when the tires are cold.
Routinely inspecting the inflation pressure will ensure that you drive smoothly without causing a lot of friction and unnecessary temperature rise.
Whenever you observe the tires getting overheated, stop your car on the side of the road and allow the tires to cool down.
Along with that, avoid driving at high speeds or putting too much load on your vehicle since both of these contribute to increasing the temperature of the tires.
All these measures will help you stay within the safe temperature range, even during summers.
To find out more about tires, you can also read our related posts on how long do summer tires last, how long do tires last in Florida, and why do tires dry rot.
Normally, tires heat up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit more than the ambient temperature on the road. However, factors such as weight overload, mechanical issues, tire health, and high speed can cause overheating.
If the temperature reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit, the tire will start getting damaged. For racing cars, hot tires usually mean better grip, but at the cost of more tire degradation.
To avoid excessively high temperatures, maintain recommended inflation pressure in tires, do not drive at very high speeds, avoid putting too much load on your vehicle, and pull over whenever you suspect that the tires are overheated.