As the only part of your vehicle that is making contact with the road, tires could be considered the most important part of your vehicle. Proper tire care is necessary if you want to extend the life of your tires and operate your vehicle safely. The following guide will allow you to identify warning signs of a potential tire failure and educate you on proper tire maintenance.
Air Pressure & Tread Depth
A tires air pressure is probably the most important factor when it comes to operating your vehicle safely and extending the life of your tires. Every tire will have a maximum inflation PSI marked on the sidewall, but this is not the optimal PSI that you should fill the tires to. Refer to the owners manual, or the sticker on the doorjamb of the drivers door to find the proper operating PSI for your vehicle.
The least amount of tread that you should operate a tire with is 2/32nds, but this can vary based on brand and model. Not everyone has a tread depth gauge just lying around, but you can always ensure that your tires have enough remaining tread by using spare change. Take a penny, and flip Lincoln so he is upside down and facing you. Place the penny in your tires tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need to replace your tires. Having a tire that has low tread will decrease your stopping ability and can cause random blowouts.
Rotation will assist in preventing your tires from wearing unevenly. Uneven wear will drastically reduce the life of your tires. The rotation process itself is not technical, and if you know how to change a tire, you can perform it in your own driveway. Simply take each tire and place it in a new position on your vehicle. Moving your right rear to left front and left rear to right front is typical.
If you notice uneven wear developing on the shoulder of your tires, it is a sign that an alignment might be necessary. Alignments involve adjusting your cars suspensions to ensure that your tires are running straight and flat on the road. Along with uneven wear, vibration is another sign that you need to get an alignment as soon as possible. Also, if you happen to hit a large pothole or a curb, we suggest getting the alignment of your tires checked.
Many different factors can effect the life of your tires. Outside of checking the pressure and the tread regularly, make sure you regularly bring your tires to a tire specialist to have them inspected. All tires need to be replaced within 10 years of the manufacture date to avoid blowouts due to dry rot. You can find the manufacture date by locating the code that starts with DOT on the tires sidewall. The last four digits of this number are the week and year that the tires were made.
The style in which you drive can have drastic implications for your tires life as well. Excessive speeding can heat up your tires, causing the rate at which they wear to increase. Fast turns and fast starts can cause unnecessary heating of your tires as well. Curbs, potholes, and other obstructions are always waiting to take out one of your tires, so avoid them at all costs.