Tires are an indispensable part of your vehicle. Without them, you’re not going anywhere. They’re also not cheap, so paying attention to how they’re used and using common sense to extract the most possible safe mileage from them makes a lot of sense. How do you do that? Here are some tips.
Drive in a reasonable manner. The most proactive thing any driver can do to lengthen the time their tires can safely be used on the vehicle is to drive reasonably. This means no fast driving; jack-rabbit starts away from the light, no squealing the tires to accelerate around a slower-moving vehicle. It also means avoiding any sudden maneuvers, such as slamming on the brakes to make a quick stop, taking turns too fast. In addition, be on the lookout for potholes in the road, curbs, wood, stones, bottles, or other obstructions as these can create holes, cause a blowout or shred your tires.
Do monthly tire pressure checks. Maintaining adequate tire pressure in all your vehicle’s tires is important to extending their life. Tires lose pressure or deflate for a number of reasons. You could have a slow leak from a puncture due to road debris. Tires lose pressure when the outside temperature drops. For every 10 degree drop in pressure, tires can lose 1 psi of pressure.
Tires that are poorly inflated cause the tires to carry more weight than they’re intended to. The result is more friction and a build-up of damaging heat. Find the correct tire pressure for your tires on a sticker placed on the inside of the driver’s door and in the car’s owner’s manual (if the tires are the original ones sold with the car).
Inspect tires for wear. Another good practice is to walk around the car and inspect each tire for signs of wear, bulging spots, cuts, or other noticeable defects. Do this at the same time as the tire pressure checks. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, have the tire repaired professionally.
Balance tires at the first sign of wear. If tires aren’t balanced, the vehicle will shake, and that’s bad for the suspension. It also accelerates flat spots on the tires. About every 15,000 to 18,000 miles, take the car in to have the tires balanced. This will help prolong the life of the tires.
Rotate tires as recommended. You might be saving a few bucks by putting off having your tires rotated as the manufacturer recommends. This is not a good strategy, since tires that aren’t regularly rotated – every 5,000 to 8,000 miles – tend to wear faster. Another way to remember to rotate tires is to have it done every other oil change.
Check wheel alignment once a year. Recall hitting that speed bump just a little too fast, or careening over a curb to avoid an oncoming car? You probably need a wheel alignment. Also, if your tires are wearing irregularly, a wheel alignment can help solve the problem and result in a little more useful life out of the tires.