Replacing the tires on your car earlier than scheduled can be a drain on the family budget if you have to replace all four at the same time. To avoid premature wear and tear of tires, give them the care you would give to the car’s interiors and accessories. Tires literally bear the weight of the car’s work and regular maintenance will enhance safety, add more miles to their life and reduce fuel consumption.
Avoid running over potholes, rocks and logs. These are the obvious driving no-no’s. Then follow these three basic preventive maintenance techniques to get the most mileage out of your wheels.
Maintain the correct air pressure of the tires. Check pressure once a month using a tire pressure gauge when the tires are cold. When a car is being driven, the air inside the tires warm up and cause them to expand, giving you an inaccurate reading. Too low tire pressure gives you underinflated tires and too much air results in overinflated tires.
Both conditions are detrimental to the tires. Underinflated ones cause faster wear and tear of the outer edges and make the car use up more fuel. The tires can also overheat and blow up. On the other side, overinflated tires cause early wear of tire treads and increased temperature which, again, can cause the tire to blow up.
Ensure proper wheel alignment. The wheels of a car are aligned if the angles are set to the car maker’s specifications. Wheels that are not properly aligned can ruin tires very quickly. Some areas are loaded more than the others and the tire treads wear unevenly. Misaligned wheels can strain steering and suspension components and increase fuel consumption.
According to Avenue Wheel Shop, an auto repair shop in Ventura, CA, a mechanic is trained to evaluate tires and assess the need for wheel alignment. Since wheel alignment is a complicated task, it is better left to the professionals. Special equipment is used for balancing and aligning. Check the owner’s manual for recommendations on how often alignment should be done. As a general rule, have your wheels aligned every 6,000 miles.
Rotate your car tires. Rotating them results in equal tire wear and you get more mileage for your gallon if the tires are evenly worn. Rotation of tires means that all four of them are taken off and transferred to a new location. Tires do not wear in the same way. Wearing of left tires is different from the right ones and the same holds true for front and rear tires. The owner’s manual will give you the correct pattern for rotation and the interval of change. Tire rotation is generally recommended after every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
Checking for the useful life of tires is possible by the showing through of the wear bars. These are strips that become visible when the tread is worn down to 1/16th of an inch. Visible wear bars are indications that the tire’s life is over and replacement is imperative.
These three simple maintenance checks do not take much time. But adhering to them will give you 60,000 or more miles from a set of four tires. On the other hand, neglecting the tires and driving on incorrect air pressure, misaligned wheels and wheels that have uneven tread wear compromises safety, wastes gasoline and requires premature tire replacement.
Marie Miller is a working woman and mother who drives daily. She tries to keep her car in top condition and writes tips on how to do it.