“Using Tire Temperatures”

The goal of any racing chassis setup is to put the tire in contact with the track surface. Therefore, tires are an important component to your suspension system. Many tracks require a “spec” tire, and racers tend to believe that they cannot do anything other than mount the tire and bolt it to the car. This can't be farther from the truth.

Tire pressures normally start out at about 25 psi, but tire temperatures will help you determine optimum pressures. You will need a pyrometer to help you determine your tire temperatures. Take tire temperatures as soon as possible when you come off the track - have one or more crew members take the temperatures as soon as you stop. In the time that it takes you to unbuckle and get out, the tire temperatures will change and give you inaccurate readings!

To take accurate readings, check the center and both edges of the tire. If the tire is over inflated, the center of the tire will be hotter than the edges. If the tire is under inflated, the center will be cooler than the edges. If the three temperatures are within 5-10 degrees, the tire inflation is probably correct. Remember that the average tire temperatures will be dictated by the chassis setup. The goal is to get the tire temperatures all about the same.

Tires temperatures also tell you how well the chassis is working. Properly inflated tires will provide you with a variety of information. For example, if the temperature of the right edge of a front tire is higher than the center or left edge, that corner doesn't have enough camber - the top of the tire needs to be adjusted to the left by adjusting the camber. The opposite is also true. In the turn, the tire should be flat on the track surface, heating the surface of the tire evenly. If the tire contact patch is not flat on the track, it will heat up unevenly.

When looking at the average temperatures for all four tires, they can tell you which corners are working harder than others. If all tires have an equal contact patch with equal weight on them, they should all be the same temperature. If they are not, there is a problem.

If the right front tire is hotter than the others, the car is pushing in the turn. If the right front is hotter, the left rear is probably cooler than the others. If the right rear is hotter than the others, the car is probably loose in the turn. Keep in mind that tire temperatures can tell you exactly what you need to know.

Mike Loescher is the owner and chief instructor at FinishLine Racing School in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Mike holds Chassis Seminars throughout the year - all around the USA & Canada. View our class schedule or call 386-427-8522 to schedule a private setup date.

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