Ever wonder what keeps your car glued to the road, rain or shine?
It’s your tires, the oft-overlooked heroes of your daily commute.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to give your tires the TLC they deserve. So, get ready to explore how (and why) tire maintenance goes beyond just checking the air pressure.
1. Tire Inspection
Your tires are like your car’s shoes; just like you’d inspect your shoes for issues before heading out, you should give your tires a lookover.
Check your tires at least once a month and before road trips.
Do you see any cuts, bumps, or nails sticking out?
Now, grab a tire pressure gauge (they’re cheap and handy) and make sure your tire pressure matches what’s in your car’s manual.
Finally, for a quick tread check, take a penny and stick it in the grooves with Lincoln’s head facing inwards. If you see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires.
2. Maintain Proper Tire Pressure
Correct tire pressure isn’t just about keeping your tires plump; it’s vital for your safety and your wallet. Underinflated tires wear out faster, reduce fuel efficiency, and compromise handling.
If you don’t have one already, get a tire pressure gauge. Consult your car’s manual for the recommended pressure. There might also be a decal on the driver’s door stating this number.
Check your tire pressure. If they’re low, add air until they match the magic number. Remember to check the spare.
3. Rotating Tires
Tire rotation is the secret sauce for making your tires last longer and perform better. Think of tire rotation as giving your tires a chance to switch positions on the dance floor. It ensures even wear, allowing them to perform at their best, and extends tire life.
There are different rotation patterns. A common one for front-wheel drive vehicles is moving the front tires directly to the back, and the rear tires are moved diagonally across to the front.
Check your car’s manual for the recommended rotation schedule, but a good rule of thumb is every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. If your tires show uneven wear, it’s definitely time to get them shuffling.
4. Balance and Alignment
Balanced and aligned tires mean better handling (key to a comfortable, drama-free ride), improved fuel efficiency, and longer tire life. Let’s explore what these two terms mean:
Balance: Imagine each tire as a perfectly balanced breakfast plate. When out of balance, the plate wobbles — not fun. Balancing redistributes weight evenly, preventing vibrations and ensuring a silky-smooth ride.
Alignment: Think of alignment as your car’s posture. When it’s off, your tires wear unevenly, and your steering might feel wonky. Professional alignment ensures everything lines up perfectly.
If your steering wheel shakes or your car pulls to one side, it’s time for a checkup.
5. Emergency Tire Repair
Tire problems happen to the best of us. Look for things like nails, screws, or debris sticking out of your tire. These sneaky culprits can lead to a flat.
A tire repair kit can come to the rescue. You’ll use it to plug small punctures temporarily, enough to get you to a professional tire shop. If you’re not comfortable with DIY fixes or if the damage is extensive, don’t hesitate to call for roadside assistance or a tow to a tire expert.
Being prepared for emergencies can help you turn a potential road disaster into a minor inconvenience.
6. Knowing When to Replace Tires
Tires have a tough job, and they don’t last forever.
Generally, tires last around 6 years and should absolutely be changed after 10 years — but it also depends on factors like driving habits and climate. Look for worn-out tread patterns, cracks, or bulges on the tire’s surface. If you spot any of these, it’s time to consider replacement. Even if they look fine, keep tabs on your tire’s age.
Driving on worn-out tires is a safety risk. New tires ensure better grip, handling, and fuel efficiency while preventing blowouts on the road.
7. Seasonal Considerations
Let’s talk about adapting your tire maintenance game to the changing seasons:
- Preparing for winter: Consider switching to winter tires when the chill sets in. They have deeper treads for better grip on icy roads. Remember to check tire pressure more frequently in colder months.
- Embracing summer: As the sun comes out, swap back to your regular or all-season tires. Keep an eye on tire pressure, as it can fluctuate with temperature changes.
If you’re using all-season tires, ensure they’re in good shape year-round with regular inspections and maintenance. And when tires are not in use, store them properly to prevent damage and prolong their lifespan.
Adapting to seasonal changes ensures your tires perform their best and keep you safe in different driving conditions.