Extend the life of your tires, save money and drive with safety. Automotive tires have many functions: They support the entire vehicle, they maintain steering ability, aid with proper braking and allows you to safely navigate your car on all types of road surfaces and in all types of weather conditions. This is why a little care and knowledge about your tires will save you money, extend the life of your tires, and help you to stay safe while driving your car.
The first thing to discuss is the Tire Rotation. Tire rotations are performed about every 5 to 10,000 miles to ensure that the tires are wearing evenly. A tire rotation simply means moving the rear tires to the front and moving the front tires to the rear. When tires are not rotated, the front tires will tend to wear out quickly due to the force they are under while turning from left to right. Periodic tire rotations will extend the life of your tires, save you money by not having to buy a set of tires prematurely and will also enhance your handling and braking.
Next up is the Wheel Alignment. Aligning the wheels basically means to ensure that the wheels are at their proper angles in relation to the road. If a tire is angled too far to one side, it will wear the tire out quickly, and it will have to be replaced. Properly aligned wheels will also improve steering and handling, especially on roads with a lot of twists and turns. You should have your wheel alignment checked every year, sooner if you have hit a lot of potholes. It’s also a good idea to have your mechanic check the tire balance too when performing a wheel alignment.
Let’s talk about Tire Pressure. Incorrect tire pressure will not only cause tire damage and premature wear, but it’s an unsafe condition. Incorrect tire pressure can lead to a tire overheating, which can cause a serious blow-out. Have your tire pressure checked once a month. All new cars today have a tire pressure warning system, which will shine a light on your dashboard to let you know when to have your tire pressure checked.
Your tires are designed to perform on all types of roads and at different speeds. However, maintain the speed limit. Especially in the rain. After more than 45 years in the auto repair business and performing many vehicle accident inspections for the New York State Troopers and other Police Departments, I can tell you that the number one cause for major accidents is speeding. In addition, on wet surfaces, hydroplaning can occur which will cause you to lose control over your vehicle. Again, slow down and obey the traffic laws.
If you drive a lot in the winter, you should consider snow tires. Snow tires are designed for winter driving and will grip the road better at lower temperatures than conventional tires, which means they have a big advantage during winter driving. One thing to note, remove snow tires in the late spring or they will wear extremely fast as soon as temperatures rise.
Here’s a question I get asked all the time, “How can I learn to change a flat tire.” The answer is not that easy. On some cars, it’s really hard to change a tire. Just finding the jack to raise the car off the ground can be frustrating. On many vehicles, the spare tire is under the car! My advice: carry your cell phone and have a list of emergency contacts.
Another overlooked fact is that tires can go stale. Every tire is stamped with a date code. Based on years of experience, tires that are over 7 years old must be carefully inspected for dry-cracking and tread separation. If the tires are in question, replace them no matter how deep the tread is or how many miles you have driven on them.
While we are on the subject of tire tread depth; New York State mandatory annual inspection regulation does not fail a tire until the tread depth is below 2/32 of an inch. When tire tread depth reaches 2/32 of an inch, it’s nearly bald! I recommend replacing tires around 4/32 of an inch. To put things into perspective, new tires have 10/32 to 12/32 of an inch.
I hope you found this information helpful. The most important thing is your safety and the safety of others on the road. There are many tires to choose from: Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli, Continental, Goodrich, Firestone, Kelly, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Cooper and many more. No matter what tire you choose for your car, take care of your tires, and follow a few basic maintenance services. This will save you money and help you to stay safe on the road!