Tires are usually pictured as big, circular hunks of black rubber that roll down the road. We don’t give them much thought before something goes wrong and you’re stuck waiting for help or digging the spare out of the car. Tires would request more respect if they could talk. Allowing them to become under-inflated and worn out is something you can stop. Alternatively, they might warn you of a nail in the tread that will light up the tire pressure indicator light in a few days. They can also help you drive more easily, brake more quickly, and get better gas mileage.

Tire manufacturers are already using smart-tire technology, with special sensors mounted in individual tires. Since the smart tires can provide is so valuable, these inventions will eventually become common, according to TJ Campbell, tire information and testing manager at online retailer Tire Rack. “I totally foresee that happening,” he said, “if for no other reason than that this is the basis for fully autonomous driving.” Self-driving vehicles, he claims, will have enough random variables to deal with without having to deal with unpredictable tire problems. The more you’re aware of a potential problem, like an air leak or worn treads, the better.

A self-driving car will also lack the sense of a skilled human driver for when the road surface is slick or the vehicle is about to skid. Computerized tire technology will be more accurate and reliable than most cars’ current stability and traction control systems in predicting impending traction loss. So, if you don’t want to risk your tires being overheated, take a look at these clever inventions that will save you and your vehicle time and money.