An integral part of your vehicle’s safety relies on your tires. Additionally, there are many other factors that relate to vehicle safety such as brakes, steering components, and more. For this reason, it is very important familiarize yourself with ways you can protect and maintain them. The easiest maintenance is to perform a monthly visual inspection and air pressure check. There are also other steps like tire rotation, proper alignment, and safe driving that are equally important.
A visual inspection means checking tire treads for punctures, signs of irregular wear, or low tread depth. You will also want to check the sidewalls for signs of damage, such as cracking, scrapes or cuts, or bulging. These problems may result from impacts or aging.
It’s advisable to have a professional inspect your tires right away if you see such signs. If the problem is severe, replace the tire with a spare to get your vehicle in for service. Remember a tread depth of 2/32” or less is considered in need or replacement.
For a quick check of your tire tread depth we recommend the Penny Test.
Check Air Pressure
To check the pressure, you’ll simply need an air pressure gauge. Your tires have a manufacturer recommended air pressure that can be found in your owner’s manual or on the door jam placard, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). If your tires are low, you can fill them at any air station or visit your local tire dealer for assistance. Or you can visit a tire retailer. Most places will refill your tires with air for free.
Underinflation and overinflation are known to cause patterns of irregular tread wear that greatly reduce the tread life of your tires. Underinflation also causes decreased fuel efficiency, and increased heat buildup that can prematurely degrade the structural integrity of your tires. Changes in elevation and temperature can cause a significant change in the air pressure of your tires. So check your air pressure on a monthly basis and be sure to do it before any long drives.
Because your front and rear axles create different patterns of wear for your tires, it’s essential to rotate your tires. Rotating your tires is the practice of switching the location of your tires on your vehicle. The industry standard recommendation is to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 6,000 miles, or whenever you get your oil changed.
Tire rotation can be done in several patterns:
• Bring front tires to the rear and rear tires to the front • Switching tires diagonally • Bring the rear tires forward and switching the front ones diagonally to the back
The important thing is to vary the areas of wear on each tire—to preserve them, and to ensure good grip.
Wheel Alignment and Tire Balancing
Alignments make sure your tires travel in a straight line. If you hit a curb hard enough, you can knock your alignment off. If you’ve ever felt your vehicle pulling or drifting to one side when you were driving straight on perfectly flat pavement—your alignment was probably off.
Tire balancing makes sure that your tires roll evenly, giving you a smooth ride while minimizing vibration. This should be done when you purchase new tires and on a regular basis.
You should check your owner's manual to determine how frequently you need to rotate your tires. The recommended tire rotation ranges from every 3,000 to 7,000 miles.
Over time having your tires and wheels correctly tuned saves your tires and suspension from irregular wear. And it can save you money by preventing your vehicle from requiring service.
Check Your Spare
Even spare tires that see no use age over time can break down. So check on your spare tire the same as your standard tires. Compact Temporary Tires require a PSI of 60, so you’ll want to verify that it’s properly inflated. The last thing you want when you have a flat tire is to open up your trunk and discover that your spare is also flat.
Driving safely can greatly improve the longevity of your tires. This means not exceeding your tires’ Load Capacity, not driving faster than your tires’ Speed Rating, and avoiding hard impacts with obstacles like potholes or curbs.
The best way to remind yourself to perform these maintenance steps may be to set reminders in the calendar on your phone or computer. It only takes a few minutes periodically to keep you safe on the road.
Vehicles do not always come with a spare tire, but you might not notice this until it’s too late (when you are on the side of the road with a flat). It’s important to always have a back-up plan. Tireamerica.com has a guide created to help you understand the best options for you.