Car Care: Tire Maintenance Tips
Tires are the parts of your car that experience the highest risk of wear and tear since they are the only parts of your vehicle that make contact with the ground. As such, you need to pay close attention to the health of your car’s tires. There are warning signs and risk factors that you have to keep in mind if you want to practice good tire maintenance. It’s important to take care of your vehicle—and it’s especially important to take care of your tires.
- If you give the proper care to your tires, you won’t have to replace them as often, which can lead to some big cost savings over the life of your vehicle.
- Proper tire maintenance can also improve energy efficiency and fuel economy; this, too, can produce significant savings.
- Most importantly, taking care of your tires ensures the utmost handling and traction—meaning it can enhance the safety of you and your passengers.
Tip #1: Constantly check tire pressure
According to Gene Petersen of Consumer Reports, only around 19 percent of drivers properly inflate their tires. Many motorists either over-inflate or under-inflate their tires, both of which can lead to complications. Under-inflated tires can result in an excessive amount of wear and tear, which in turn will lead to overheating. Over-inflating can wear down the tread.
To remedy this problem, modern vehicles come equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes. A light will illuminate on your vehicle’s dashboard if your tire pressure is too low.
Still, it’s important to be proactive and check the tire pressure on a routine basis before waiting for the warning light. AAA suggests using a tire pressure gauge and checking your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if that recorded pressure is the recommended level.
The tires themselves can provide clues as to what the tire pressure should be. According to the NHTSA, each tire will have letters and numbers written on the sidewall, letting you known important information about the tire, like its maximum permissible pressure, maximum load rating and tread wear.
Tip #2: Inspect the tread
Another aspect of your tires that you should be constantly monitoring is their tread. According to AAA, tires need to have a good depth of tread to maintain traction on the road. Tires that have lost this tread over time are known as “bald” tires. The NHTSA states that tires that have less than 2/32 inches of tread are not safe to drive on and are below the legal limit.
The ideal amount of tread is right around 4/32 inches of tread, according to AAA. When measuring the tire tread depth, remember to measure the outer, center and inside edges in case they’re wearing unevenly. In the past, the penny test was a tried and true method to test tire tread depth, but nowadays, most experts suggest using a precise measurement tool to make sure you have the proper tread depth.
Tip #3: Rotate the tires
To maintain the overall health of the tires, rotate them on a routine basis. Most cars exert different levels of force on the front and back wheels, so rotating the tires better distributes the wear and tear the tires suffer. According to the Today Show, most experts suggest rotating the tires every 5,000-7,000 miles. If you’re getting ready to head out on a long trip, this would be an ideal time to rotate the tires. That way, they are less susceptible to irreparable damage during your journey.
Tip #4: Moderate your vehicle’s load
Once cause of excessive tire wear that you might not consider is an overloaded vehicle. Petersen says that each vehicle has a unique weight capacity, and going over that capacity can cause excessive strain on the tires. As such, don’t load your vehicle up with any unessential cargo or supplies. If you have to haul of lot of cargo with you, be even more vigilant about checking for signs that the tires are under duress.
Understanding the risk factors that your vehicle’s tires face and recognizing the warning signs will help the rubber keep rolling along for many miles to come.
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