Tires are the single most expensive wear item on your vehicle, which means maintaining them can save you a lot of money in the long run. These tips will help you get the most out of each set, keeping your vehicle safe and your wallet full.
Check the Tire Pressure
Modern cars have TPMS sensors that turn on a light in the gauge cluster to let you know if a tire is dangerously low, but checking the tires before this warning has a chance to appear can reduce strain on the tread and sidewall to extend tire life. Ideally, tire pressure should be measured at least once a month.
How much air should be in your tires? Open the driver’s door and look at the frame next to the seat: you should see a sticker that lists the recommended tire pressure for the front and rear tires as well as the spare.
Rotate Your Tires
The front tires have to deal with steering, the majority of braking and, in front and all wheel drive vehicles, power. This wears them out far faster than the rear tires. By rotating your car’s tires, this wear is spread across the entire set to get a longer total life. Most manufacturers recommend rotating the tires every 5,000 miles.
Obviously, burnouts are bad for tires, but it’s not the only way you can scrub away the tread prematurely. Hard cornering and accelerating or braking quickly add stress that increases tread wear and flexes the sidewalls. In late model cars, the effects are less noticeable thanks to traction control systems: if the TCS light is coming on when you drive, it’s actively reigning in your vehicle, which means you’re being too aggressive.
Even if you go easy, there’s another factor to consider: weight. When you go around a curve, the car’s weight acts like a lever, pushing on the sidewalls and sides of the tread. Adding more weight up high on a roof rack increases leverage and, as a result, wear. Try to put as much cargo in the vehicle as possible, and if you need extra space, consider using hitch-mounted storage to keep the center of gravity low.
Keep the Tires Balanced
Tires are balanced when they’re first installed, but over time tread wear can change the tire’s weight, throwing it back out of balance. This is normally felt as a vibration through the seat or steering wheel. If you feel these vibrations, take your car into a tire shop to have the balance checked.
Protect Your Tires from the Environment
UV light is well known for turning dashboards into crumbly messes, but it can also do the same to your tires. If you don’t have access to a garage, try to park your car out of sunlight to preserve the rubber.
Do you switch between winter and summer tires through the year? When you store the tires you aren’t using, keep them away from your furnace. As it cycles on and off, your home’s heating system creates ozone that can prematurely age your tires.
Keep the Wheels Aligned
If the suspension isn’t set up correctly, the tires can be at an angle that causes them to scrub against the pavement or concentrate wear on one spot of the tire. When you get an alignment, a technician checks the position of the suspension components and adjusts them so that the tires meet the road at the correct position. You should have your car aligned when you buy new tires, and then every couple years after that. You should also have your car aligned if you hit a hard bump or curb as this can bend suspension components slightly, changing the wheel angle.
When you need your car aligned, bring it to Merton Auto Body. Our helpful technicians will get you back on the road with the confidence and security you deserve.