A tire belt is a critical component for the smooth functioning of your vehicle’s wheels. The belt balances the wheels and helps them perform over different terrain. Without wheel balancing, you will experience a drive that’s not-so-smooth. The belt additionally maintains the shape of the wheels and helps them absorb shocks. It also helps distribute equal weight on all four of the tires. Such factors are essential for an even and smooth drive.
If you have been lately experiencing an uneven drive followed by loud noises, you may need to check your wheels. Externally they may appear normal, but there may be an issue with the steel belt inside. Before you decide to wait things out and ignore the problem, remember that driving with a broken belt can be extremely dangerous. Broken belts lead to the tire’s tread separating from its internal structure. Now that is a scary scenario.
What Does a Broken Tire Belt Sound Like; Signs to Look Out For
Like everything else that is factory manufactured, tires are not fail-proof. Many manufacturing errors, as well as wear and tear over time, reduce their life. The defects will start showing with overuse and without regular maintenance. Usually, when the tire belt breaks, it tells you so loud and clear. It makes noises when you drive on the highway, and it shakes and vibrates the steering wheel and inner cabin of the car.
Here are the two common signs of a broken belt:
Loud noises are scary to hear when driving down the highway, and it’s even more frightening to realize what might happen if you ignore this noise. The noise you hear could be your broken tire belt, telling you that your tires may be coming off.
When the steel belt of the tire breaks, it causes the tire to produce a thumping noise when driving. This noise will be more audible and louder at a slower speed since there will be no wind or road noise to interfere with the sound of the wheels. This thumping or squealing noise is caused when the broken belt vibrates hard on uneven surfaces.
As already stated, a broken belt leads to tire separation. If left unattended, this can cause your tires to bounce off and come apart. Although this sounds like a scene from an action movie, it is possible. That’s how integral the steel belt is in holding the tires together.
Moreover, the steel belt is essential in the wheel’s general health and longevity. It helps maintain the road friction necessary when driving on slippery or winding roads and under bad weather conditions.
Another common sign of a broken tire belt is the vibrations you feel when driving. The steel belt supports the tire’s surface, and when it breaks, it makes parts of the tire uneven, causing these vibrations to occur. This imbalance causes the drive to be jerky and wobbly.
The first place where you feel these vibrations is the steering wheel. When you put your car in drive and place your hand on the wheel, you will significantly feel the wheel shaking with these vibrations. Driving like this is an unpleasant experience and dangerous if left unchecked. Eventually, these vibrations creep into other parts of the cabin, such as the seats, floorboards, dashboard, buttons, etc. These vibrations are caused by the separation of the tire from the rest of the inner structure.
You can assess whether one of the front wheels or back tires has a broken belt by the vibrations felt at different driving speeds. If the belt breaks in one of the front tires, the vibrations will increase as the car goes higher. If the vibrations are louder at a low speed, it indicates that one of the rear tire belts may have snapped.
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Causes of a Broken Tire Belt
Knowing what causes a broken tire belt can be helpful for you to keep your wheel working for longer. Suppose you know beforehand what possible factors can damage the tire belt. In that case, you can minimize these for an improved and more prolonged wheel performance and provide timely solutions.
Below are some of the leading causes of a broken belt.
During a car’s production process, there is a possibility of many mistakes occurring. In other cases, it’s just the tire that malfunctions at some point. While a defective tire could result from a manufacturing error, it could also be a result of other unforeseen factors. Some of these errors can be due to treads that do not follow the tire casing or treads which have spacing issues. Such issues can lead to the steel belt in the tire breaking faster and keeping the tire from performing its best.
The good news is that a broken belt resulting from a manufacturing error is the company’s fault, not yours. As such, top companies often have policies to compensate users in cases where a broken seat belt caused an accident. Upon having the issue checked with a mechanic, you can apply for total compensation in the form of new tires or a new car.
Uneven Terrain and High Speeds
Your car needs regular maintenance for best performance. This is particularly true if you drive on rugged terrains. A typical tire works best on flat surfaces. Driving on uneven terrain and at high speeds can affect the tire’s life span. There are increased chances of the belt breaking when the car goes over obstacles and rough patches at high speed. Such rough patches can include bumpy, slippery, or cracked roads.
Thus if you drive your car in such conditions, be aware of the wear and tear of the tires, and have it periodically maintained. If you want your tires to last longer, you may have to significantly reduce your speed and avoid bumpy roads.
During the manufacturing process, errors can also occur in the belts. Most car manufacturers do not make their belts and outsource these to third-party vendors. The quality of the belt depends on the external supplier and the material they use in the production.
The main element in the tires is the steel wires which maintain the tire’s shape on flat terrain and help absorb shocks on uneven terrain. Next are the multiple layers of rubber that encase these steel ropes. The quality of steel or rubber used during the production also affects the belt’s durability: the more robust the belt, the more durable the tires.
While some third-party supplies of steel belts are trustworthy, some produce defective tires. Therefore, a broken seat belt could be a result of the vendor’s manufacturing errors.
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Sometimes a broken tire belt can go unnoticed. If you do not know what symptoms to look out for, chances are you may be unaware it’s wheel trouble that’s causing the strange noises or the bumpy drive.
Whenever you feel your car wobbling, swaying, or making thumping noises as you drive down the highway, one potential cause is the broken tire belt. If this occurs, it is advisable to stop your car and have it checked by a mechanic. Some of the potential causes of a broken seat belt include tire defects, uneven terrain, and high speed or defective belts. While you may think it is your fault to have a broken seat belt, sometimes the problem can be traced back to the manufacturer.
Educating yourself on how a broken belt makes your car behave is a good idea. A broken belt should never be left unchecked or ignored, as it will lead to your tires bouncing off, which we all agree is a scary prospect.