Listen – do you know what that tyre noise is telling you?

Your hearing is the first tyre check you should make

Do you hear that noise? The one your tyres are making on Brisbane’s roads? That’s not just rubber on tarmac, that’s real communication. The squeals, squeaks, screeches and rumbles all tell you about the state of your tyres and more.

It is thought that three-quarters of effective communication is through listening to what the other person is telling you. With tyres in Brisbane, the noise they make tells you most of what you need to know about their condition. Listen to what they are telling you, for they are key to your safety. Those black circles are your single point of contact between you and the road. They are integral to the handling, comfort, and braking distance of your vehicle, in whatever weather and road condition Brisbane throws at you.

And you thought listening to your spouse was important…

Tyres always make a noise, don’t they?

Some noise from your tyres is inevitable. When rubber rolls against any surface there will be noise from the friction between the different materials. Air, water and debris move rapidly between the tyre tread, causing even more noise. Tyre manufacturers spend millions on creating tread patterns that cut down noise. Some have almost achieved perfection. But until vehicles float rather than roll, tyre noise will never be eliminated.

Much of the noise you hear your tyres make will be natural rubber against the road. Each tyre brand and product sound slightly different to another on the road. Learning to translate the noises your tyres make takes experience, though the language is the same. It’s a little like learning to understand what a Scot is saying when you are only used to speaking with fellow Aussies.

The language of tyres

There are several common sounds that your tyres make. They may squeal, squeak, or rumble. It is the language that tyres use to communicate to you. Let’s translate these sounds for you:

·      Squealing tyres

Your tyres may squeal, especially when you are turning tight corners. Often, you’ll hear this in car parks. If it appears that this squealing is from your front tyres, they are probably underinflated. You should check the tyre pressure, even if they don’t look underinflated.

·      Squeaking tyres

If you have a tyre that squeaks, you need to take notice straight away. It’s more dangerous than a squeal. A squeak could be a sign that your tread is worn unevenly, and usually on the front tyres. You might also experience some pulling to either the right or the left. Get to the tyre shop immediately and have your tyres, wheel balance and wheel alignment checked.

·      Squeaking with a rattle

If a squeaking tyre is accompanied by a rattle, it’s likely that the hubcap has come loose.

·      Grinding sounds

If you are suffering a grinding sound from your wheels, it’s time to be scared. The most likely cause is that your brakes are failing; worn drums or pads. Don’t take any risks with this noise. Wherever you are, get your vehicle checked immediately. Failing brakes are never good news – for you, your passengers, or other road users.

·      Rumbling and vibration

Some road surfaces (especially ribbed) cause your tyres to rumble and vibrate. However, a more important reason to be worried is that rumbling and vibration from your tyres could indicate that a wheel bearing is worn – especially if the noise gets louder as your speed increases. The wheel bearing keeps your wheel attached to the car. I don’t need to tell you how serious rumbling and vibration from your tyre is. It’s screaming to get your car checked.

·      Screeching

Screeching tyres is normal if you are cornering at high speed, or if you brake quickly to stop fast. It is caused by friction between rubber and road. However, if your tyres are screeching during normal driving, the likelihood is that your tread depth is illegal. Bring your vehicle into our tyre shop, and we’ll check your tread and locate the problem.

If in doubt, shout!

When you’ve been driving a while on a set of tyres, sometimes you instinctively know something isn’t quite right. There may be a noise that you can’t pinpoint or put into a particular ‘sound’ category, but you just have a feeling that it doesn’t sound right. It could be that you’ve hit a pothole or scraped against a kerb. Your wheel may have become misaligned, or your tread has worn, or your tyres are underinflated.

Don’t ignore the noise from your tyres. If you aren’t sure what it means, err on the side of caution. Get your tyres and car checked. Be safe, not sorry. Don’t take any chances – contact us today and book an appointment for a tyre check.

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.