Getting a new set of tires is an investment in your vehicle by any standard, and naturally, you want to ensure that those new tires keep you car rolling safely along the road for as long as possible. Practicing basic tire maintenance is an important part of making sure you're getting the most out of your investment. Here are five common-sense tips to keep your tires at their very best.
1. Keep tires properly inflated
Keeping the right amount of air in your tires is possibly the most important thing you can do to extend the life and effectiveness of your tires. (It will also improve your gas mileage.) The proper inflation level will be imprinted on the tire wall. Check the air pressure regularly, and put air in the tires as needed. If you notice one or more tires losing pressure regularly, you may have a leak; take the vehicle to a trusted auto repair center to have the tires checked.
2. Rotate and balance the tires regularly
Another key ingredient of proper tire maintenance is to have them rotated and balanced every so often by an auto repair expert, to help ensure that the tread is wearing evenly on all tires. Tires on the front of your vehicle wear differently than those on the rear, and sometimes differ left to right, as well. Rotating and balancing the tires every 6000-8000 miles or so (or every two oil changes) will help keep the tires from wearing unevenly. (If you start noticing a vibration in the wheels, it may also be time to re-balance the tires.)
3. Keep the wheels aligned
Proper wheel alignment is another key to keeping the tire tread wearing evenly. When the wheels are out of alignment, the car's weight is not evenly distributed over the tires, causing the tread to appear rough or uneven. If you notice one or more of the tires showing an odd wear pattern (especially along the shoulder of the tire), it may be time for a wheel alignment. You should also check the alignment if you ever hit something, or if you go over a large bump or pothole at high speeds.
4. Practice safe driving habits
Common-sense safe driving can preserve the life of your tires. Skids, tight turns and sudden starts can all increase the wear on the treads, eventually causing balding. Avoid these whenever possible.
5. Check the tire tread
When the tire tread is less than 2/32 inch deep, it's time to replace the tire. One easy way to check at home is by the "penny test." Place a penny with Lincoln's head facing downward into the grooves of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, the tread is worn down and it's time for new tires.