How To Keep Your Car Tires In Tip-Top Shape
Do you care about the tires on your vehicle? Like, honestly care about their condition? Have you been conducting regular maintenance checks, or have at least been monitoring their condition? Being a responsible car owner requires you to take a constant interest in the condition of your tires –– not merely to avoid paying a huge repair fee, but also to ensure the safety of yourself and other road users.
Tires are the sole component that the car has in contact with the road, and has a direct effect on vehicle handling, braking, riding, and most importantly, driver safety. To be at optimum working performance, tires must have the correct tread depth, air pressure, balance, and tire alignment. If you drive regularly in cold climates, on uneven roads, or for long distances, we advise you to conduct a tire inspection at least once a month. Fortunately for you, tire inspections take a couple of minutes, so long as you know what to look out for. Here is some more great advice about tire maintenance.
A good tread depth provides the car with ample traction to navigate various road types in less-than-desirable weather conditions, such as ice, snow, or rain. Over prolonged exposure to road friction, the tread will begin to crack and wear down. Having thin tread will make it much more difficult to control and brake your vehicle on the road, which may lead to more disastrous consequences such as a fatal accident, flat tire, or tire rupture.
One easy way to measure a tire’s tread depth is through the penny test. Place a quarter into the tread groove with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you’re not able to see the top of his head, your tires have enough tread and are in good working condition. If his head is visible, it means that your tires have less than 2/32” of tread, and should be replaced as soon as possible.
Maintain Your Tire’s Air Pressure
Making sure that you have the correct tire pressure is step one in maintaining a healthy condition for your tires. Whilst the recommended pressure commonly ranges between 30 to 35 PSI, you can double-check by looking for your manufacturer’s recommendation on a label inside your car, on the side of the tire, within your owner’s manual, or on the side of the car door.
Be careful to not over-inflate your tires, as it may wear out the center thread quicker than the tread located at the outer part of the tire. This will result in poor traction over prolonged use, which may lead to several disastrous consequences. On the other hand, having too little air in the tire will cause the tire to have excess contact with the road. This increased friction may cause complications with your gas mileage and quicker wear and tear.
Flat and Punctured Tires
Not all flat tires are visible. Some come in the form of leaky tires, others may be punctured, whilst the rest might have an obvious hole in the middle. If you suspect that you’re having a flat tire, the first thing to do is to inspect it for any visible signs. For example, if you spot a sharp object embedded within the tire, take a claw hammer or a pair of pliers to remove the obstruction gently.
If you’re unsure whether your tire is fully punctured, take a bucket of soapy water to coat the surface of the tire with it. Whether your tire is leaking depends if you notice any soapy bubbles forming. Once you’re able to locate the leak, mark the spot with a silver felt-tipped pen, and bring the punctured tire to a repair shop.
Rotating Your Tires
One way to increase the lifespan of your tires is to rotate them, which helps to maintain a more even wear and tear. Depending on the location of your tire, it may wear differently over time –– for example, a front-wheel car relies on the front tires to generate power, whereas the rear-wheel car relies on the rear tires to propel the car forward. We recommend rotating your tires every six months, or after every 3000 to 5000 miles.
When dealing with front-wheel or rear-wheel vehicles, remove the wheels from their original position (be it in the front or the rear) and place them in the opposite position of the same side. For all-wheel-drive vehicles, rotate the tires in a crisscross pattern. Your left tire should go to the right rear, whilst the right tire should go to the left front.
Balancing Your Tires and Wheels
Having a good balance between your tires and wheels is essential to maintaining an even distribution of weight throughout the entire vehicle. If the vehicle is imbalanced, the tires may wobble or vibrate violently during the ride. This may cause uneven tire wear and a higher risk of wear and tear. Whilst the process of checking your tire and wheel alignment is simpler than it looks, it requires you to be precise and careful. If you’re not confident, get a professional to do it for you. Checking the alignment of your tire and wheels should be done either when getting new tires, or when the tires are getting rotated.
Aligning Your Tires and Wheels
Wheel alignment is a procedure to correct the angle at which your car’s wheels come into contact with the road surface. If the wheels of your car are misaligned, you might experience off-center steering whilst driving straight, your car pulling over to the side, vibrating steering wheel, or uneven tire tread wear. These will not only negatively impact your driving journeys, but could potentially be a serious safety hazard. On the other hand, a tire alignment refers to the angle at which the wheels and tire connect to the vehicle’s suspension –– camber, caster, and toe. These angles refer to the different angles at which the tire connects with your vehicle and wheel.
Whilst tire maintenance can be a hassle, owners need to undergo regular checkups to ensure the safety of themselves, their passengers, and the other vehicle drivers. Car maintenance goes beyond the occasional car wash and grooming –– it requires time, patience, and dedication, to ensure every part of the car is operating at its best. Cultivating a habit of regular tire checkups would change your entire driving experience, trust me!
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