Healthy tires make driving comfortable and safe, and replacing them can come with a hefty price tag. Follow these tips to get the most out of your investment.
Keep a Close Eye on Tread
Tires perform best when they can grip the road tightly, and tread allows them to do this. Once tread wear reaches about 4/32 of an inch, most experts recommend replacement, so knowing where you stand will help you plan ahead.
Checking the tires about once per month should be enough, and the built-in treadwear indicators on each tire make the process quick and easy. Simply examine each tire against the indicator, and once the tread is level with the marker, you know it’s time for a new set.
Watch Tire Pressure
Poorly inflated tires can cause a number of driving problems, so keeping a close watch on pressure does more than protect tire shelf-life. Proper inflation increases fuel efficiency and vehicle maneuverability and of course extends the life of your tires by almost 5,000 miles.
To stay ahead of low pressure, check all tires (including the spare) monthly. Note: For best results, check air pressure when the car has been sitting for at least two or three hours. This is known as checking while the tires are cold.
To know the ideal pressure for your tires, check the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. Although the tire pressure monitoring system will alert you when a tire starts to lose pressure, it won’t help you maintain them under normal circumstances. For regular checks, you can purchase a tire pressure gauge or use the equipment at your local gas station. When under inflated, simply fill each tire to the proper level.
Stay Balanced, Aligned and Rotated
Well-balanced tires keep wheels rotating properly and ensure a smooth ride. As such, when you replace them, make sure to have them balanced and aligned so everything falls into place. It also helps to check the owner’s manual for other alignment guidelines, and remember to take your car in for evaluation after hitting a pothole or other road impediment.
Since tires wear at varying rates, having them rotated frequently keeps them in top shape. Most experts recommend rotating them every 5,000 – 8,000 miles, but you might need it sooner if uneven wear causes driving issues.
Consider Specialty Tires
Especially if you live in a place with long, extreme winters, investing in seasonal tires can make a world of difference. Winter tires handle better on snow and ice, and their unique properties make them more susceptible to wear in warm conditions. Therefore, having them for extreme seasons can save you money down the road.