Tips For Proper Tire Maintenance
Tips For Proper Tire Maintenance
Learn to inspect your tires. Look at the depth of the remaining tread, while you are looking for uneven wear. Look for signs of a separated tire. Pay attention to how the tires ride.While every part that makes up your vehicle is important, some are more important than others — including the tires. Since tires also can be quite expensive and are essential to your safety while driving, you want to take care of them as best you can. Many people don’t think about tire maintenance, instead waiting until the “low air” tire sensor or another person tells them a tire is low. By then, you already could have done some damage to the tires.
One of the most important steps in tire maintenance is ensuring that every tire is properly inflated. If tires have too much air, the center will wear sooner than the outside edges. You also will have less rubber contacting the road, which makes driving in slick conditions, including rain, that much more dangerous.
If the tire pressure is too low, the outside edges will wear faster. You also have some handling problems with low tires. Always check the tire pressure visually before you drive the vehicle, or after it sits for a couple of hours. Check it with an air pressure gauge at least monthly, too. You can find the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall of the tire, or on the sticker on the driver’s doorjamb.
Hitting potholes or bumping the curb hard enough could knock your vehicle out of alignment. You should have the alignment checked at least once per year. If you know you hit a pothole or curb hard enough, however, have the alignment checked as soon as possible. Other actions that could affect the alignment include driving over gravel roads that are particularly bumpy or even a rough railroad track crossing.
Wear and Tear
Even when you keep tires properly inflated, you’re going to get some wear and tear — and tires seldom wear evenly. You might have one front tire that seems to wear faster than the others. To keep the tire wear even, rotate the tires every six months or at intervals of 10,000 to 12,000 miles.
- Shaking in the steering wheel at a certain speed — usually between 55 and 75 mph — indicates that the tires are not properly balanced. Balance the tires as soon as possible, as an unbalanced tire could wear faster.
- Shaking at slower speeds indicates that you may have a separated tire. Tires are made of rubber layers that are glued together. In many cases, a bubble will appear on the sidewall, indicating that the layers are separating.
- Check the depth of the tread, which in the U.S. is measured in 32nds of an inch. If the depth is approaching 2/32 of an inch, it’s time to replace the tires. Instead of trying to measure the tread with a ruler, stick a quarter in the tread. If the tread does not reach the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to replace the tires. You also can look for the wear indicators, which are squares of rubber located between the tread on the tires. If the tread is even close to the wear indicators, it’s time for new tires.
If you have a tire damaged to the point that you must replace it, yet the other tires still have plenty of life left, be sure to use the same size and type of tire. When possible, it’s better to replace all four tires at the same time. If you just spent hundreds on a set of tires a month or three ago, however, you can replace only the damaged tire.
The Importance of Tire Maintenance
Keep your family and yourself safe by checking your vehicle’s tires often. Watch for balancing, separation and tread issues. When you have the tires rotated, ask the technician to balance them, too. In most cases, they will, but don’t assume it will be done. Keeping an eye on your vehicle’s tires allows you to see minor issues before they become major issues, while also helping you extend the life of the tires.
Ryan Holtzer is Chief Executive Officer of Tires By Web, a leading tire and wheel e-commerce company. Before joining Tires By Web in 2004, he completed General Electric’s Financial Management Program and has served as a Black Belt in GE’s Six Sigma Initiative.