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When a mechanic shakes his or her head at your tires and says they have been vulcanized, this is not a bogus use of a tire term. What your mechanic sees is the effects of heat on your tires, which can prematurely age them and render them useless over time. Vulcanized tires are hard and inflexible, which is the very thing you don't want when it comes to wet pavement. A vulcanized tire can lose its grip on the pavement, potentially sending you out of control until you can get some traction back. Vulcanized tires need to be replaced. If your mechanic uses the dread word in reference to your tires, it's time to start checking tire prices--it's not safe to wait.