How to Take Care of Your Car's Tires: A Complete Guide
Where Can You Drive Without Good Tires?
Your car's tires are its only point of contact with the road, so it's important to take care of them so you have a smooth and safe ride. Neglecting your tires can lead to a range of issues, from premature wear and tear to reduced fuel efficiency and even car accidents.
In this article, we'll go over some key tips for taking care of your car's tires, including how to check the tire pressure, rotate them regularly, and maintain the tread. We'll also explain how to fix common tire problems and when it is time to replace your tires.
How Do Car Tires Get Damaged Over Time?
There are many ways that car tires can become damaged over time, including:
Wear and tear
Tires naturally wear down as they are used, and the rate of wear can vary depending on factors such as driving habits, road conditions, and the type of tires you have. As the tread wears down, the tire becomes less effective at gripping the road, which can lead to reduced handling and braking performance.
Tires can be damaged by exposure to extreme temperatures, sunlight, and other environmental conditions. For example, tires can become brittle and prone to cracking in exteremly cold weather, while heat can cause the rubber to break down and become more prone to punctures.
Tires can be damaged by hitting potholes, curbs, broken glass, or other road hazards. These impacts can cause bulges, blisters, or other visible damage on the sidewall or tread of the tire.
Underinflation or overinflation
Tires that are underinflated or overinflated can suffer from uneven wear, reduced traction, and other issues. It's important to maintain the proper tire pressure to ensure that your tires are performing at their best and to extend their lifespan.
Poorly aligned wheels
If your car's wheels are not properly aligned (a rare issue), the tires can suffer from uneven wear and other issues. It's important to have the alignment checked regularly to ensure that your tires are wearing evenly and performing at their best.
There are several reasons why your car's tires might become misaligned, including:
- Hitting a curb or pothole
- Wearing out the suspension or steering components
- Incorrect installation of the tires or wheels
- Accidents or collisions that damage the suspension or steering components
If you suspect that your car's tires are misaligned, it's a good idea to have them checked by a mechanic. They can diagnose the issue and recommend any necessary repairs to restore the alignment.
Checking Your Tire Pressure
One of the most important aspects of tire care is maintaining the right tire pressure. Underinflated tires can reduce fuel efficiency, cause uneven wear, and even lead to a blowout. On the other hand, overinflated tires can also cause issues, like a harsh ride and reduced traction.
To make sure that your tires are properly inflated, you'll need a tire pressure gauge, which is a simple tool that measures the air pressure in your tires.
To use the gauge, follow these steps:
- Locate the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. This information can usually be found in the owner's manual or on a placard located on the door jamb or glove box.
- Remove the cap from the tire valve stem, which is the small, circular opening on the side of the tire.
- Press the tire pressure gauge firmly onto the valve stem and hold it there for a few seconds. The gauge will give you a reading in pounds per square inch (PSI).
- Compare the reading to the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. If the pressure is too low, add air until it reaches the recommended level. If it's too high, release some air until it's at the proper level.
The recommended tire pressure can vary depending on the load of the vehicle, the type of tire, and the outside temperature. Be sure to check the pressure when the tires are cold, as the heat generated by driving can cause the pressure to increase.
Rotating the Tires
Rotating your tires is an important part of maintaining their longevity and performance. This process involves moving the tires to different positions on the vehicle, which helps to evenly distribute the wear and tear.
This isn’t something you can do yourself, as you’ll need to lift your car off the ground. If you want to do this, you’ll need to go to a mechanic.
It's generally recommended to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles or every other oil change.
Maintaining the Tread
The tread on your tires is the part that comes into contact with the road, and it plays a crucial role in traction, handling, and braking. As the tread wears down, the performance of your tires will suffer, so it's important to monitor the tread depth and replace your tires when necessary.
One way to check the tread depth on your tires is to use a tread depth gauge, which is a small tool that looks like a small ruler with a gauge on one end. To use it, simply insert the gauge into the tread of the tire at several points around the circumference. If the tread depth is less than 2/32 of an inch, it's time to replace the tires.
Another way to check the tread depth is to use the "penny test." To do this, simply take a penny and insert it into the tread of the tire with Lincoln's head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, it's time to replace the tires.
It's important to note that the tread depth can vary depending on the type of tire and the driving conditions. For example, tires used for off-road driving or in areas with severe weather conditions may need to be replaced more frequently.
Don’t forget to check yourowner's manual or a local mechanic for specific recommendations to maximize your car tire’s tread life.
How to Know if You Need to Take Your Car to a Tire Shop
There are a few key signs that it's time to take your car to a tire shop for inspection or maintenance.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Uneven wear: If you notice that the tread is wearing down more quickly on one side of the tire than the other, it could be a sign of an alignment issue. Your car may also pull to one side or vibrate while driving if the alignment is off.
- Bulges or blisters: If you notice any bulges or blisters on the sidewall of the tire, it could be a sign of internal damage and the tire may need to be replaced.
- Low tire tread depth: If you've used the penny test or a tread depth gauge and determined that the tread depth is below the minimum level, it's time to replace the tires.
- Flat tires: If you get a flat tire and the tire is repairable, it's generally best to take it to a tire shop for a professional repair. If the tire is damaged beyond repair, it will need to be replaced.
If at any point you're not sure when to replace your car tires, it's always a good idea to consult a mechanic or a tire specialist. They can check on the condition of your tires and recommend any necessary repairs and help you find the right tire replacement.
You’ll also want to make sure that you keep a spare tire in your trunk if you have the space. The worst thing that can happen is you’re stuck on the road due to an issue with one of your tires.
Like this blog post? Check out some of the other useful car maintenance articles we’ve written below!