Tire care is one of the most important aspects you need to pay attention to with your vehicle. Your tires are the only point of contact your vehicle has with the road, and to ensure your safety, they must be in the best condition at all times. Unless you closely examine your tires, you might not even be aware that they have damage. Poor tire maintenance can lead to a blowout or flat tire. Use this guide to learn why tire care is important, and what steps you can take to make sure your tires are in tip-top shape.
Why Is Tire Care Important?
Tires are an integral part of your vehicle as they control the vehicle’s handling, braking, safety, and ride. To ensure that your tires last a long time, make sure you stay up-to-date on maintenance. For optimal performance, your tires must have the ideal tire pressure, tread depth, balance, and alignment. It’s best to check your tires monthly unless you drive long distances regularly or go through potholes. If those instances occur, examine your tires more often.
Also, if you’re a resident of Texas, proper tire maintenance is a necessity to pass the state’s vehicle safety and emissions inspection requirements. Each year, you have to undergo a visual inspection of your tires. During this inspection, officials check the tread and inflation. If there’s a visible cord, snags, or cracks larger than 1 inch in length and depth, your vehicle might not pass. One of the common reasons that vehicles fail the inspection involves worn tires since a tire blowing out on the highway could be disastrous.
Schedule a Tire Rotation
Your vehicle’s tires on the front and rear operate at different loads and receive different amounts of pressure for acceleration and braking. To maximize the life of your tires, make sure you get your tires rotated. Check your owner’s manual, but you should typically rotate your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. During the rotation, the technician can also inspect the condition of each tire. However, for some vehicles, tire rotation isn’t recommended, especially if the front and rear tires are different sizes. Look in the owner’s manual for guidance.
Get Your Tires Balanced
Having your tires balanced also extends the life of the tires. Whenever the tire is removed from the wheel, such as being repaired for a puncture, make sure you have the tires balanced. When balancing occurs, small weights are attached to the wheels to limit vibrations of the wheels and tires when they turn. You should also have this done if you notice a vibration, have new tires installed, or have passed 15,000 miles since the last time your tires were balanced.
Have the Wheel Alignment Adjusted
The wheel alignment measures the position of the wheels compared to the specifications provided by the vehicle manufacturer. If the alignment measure isn’t within this specific range, uneven wear can occur and fuel economy might be lower. A poorly aligned vehicle can also veer to the right or left when you’re traveling down a straight road.
Have the alignment checked and adjusted by a qualified technician whenever you have new tires installed or if you encounter any unusually steering occurrences. You can tell if your alignment is accurate if you can drive down a road in a straight line and not have the vehicle drift or pull to either side.
Check the Tire Pressure
Every month, check the tire pressure to make sure the tires are properly inflated as this can make a difference in how long the tires last. Tires can lose about 1 pound per square inch (psi) each month due to valve leaks, accidental tire puncture, or wheel malfunction.
It’s best to check your tires when they’re cold; however, if you’re unable to do so, add 4 to 5 psi to the car manufacturer’s recommended pressure value. Digital or dial gauges are better than stick ones, and avoid using the ones at gas stations as those tend to be inaccurate. Don’t forget to check your spare tire as well. Newer vehicles might have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, but these typically activate a warning when a tire is significantly under-inflated.
According to Michelin, a tire that is under-inflated by as much as 20% lasts about 20% less than those that are properly inflated. This also means that if the tires should last about 60,000 miles that they will be worn out by 48,000 miles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also states that properly inflating your tires can save you as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel.
Under-inflated tires are one of the biggest reasons that your vehicle consumes excess fuel, and they have a higher rolling resistance. This means that it takes more effort for the engine to move the vehicle. On the other hand, over-inflated tires have their middle section to remain in constant contact with the road, creating wear primarily on its center of the tread.
Pay Attention to the Tread
To properly grip the roadway and maintain control, your tires need a decent amount of remaining tread. Without the grooves found in the tire’s design, the tires can cause you to slide off the road, especially during inclement weather. The legal minimum tread depth is 2/32nd of an inch. This is another task you should complete monthly, and you can tackle this when you’re checking the tire pressure.
An easy way to check the tread is by using the Penny Test. Take a penny, and hold Lincoln’s body between your thumb and forefinger. Locate a part of your tire that has low tread, and place the penny so Lincoln’s head rests in one of the grooves. If any of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, your tires have enough tread; otherwise, it’s best to purchase new tires.
If you have questions about tire care, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Huffines CJDR Plano. Not only can they answer your questions, but they can provide you with any guidance you need to make sure your tires and vehicle stay in perfect condition.
Image via Flickr by Ivan Radic