Unless one has a flat that has halted any hope of travel, tires can be relatively easy to overlook for the average person. Getting the most mileage and safety out of your tires does not require frequent maintenance but those four pieces of rubber do need to be tended to more often than every dentist appointment.
Even the most durable tires can lose efficiency if not properly maintenance. Here are some basic tips to proper tire care that will ensure you’re getting the most gas mileage and remain safe on the road:
Check the Air Pressure
At least once a month, pull your vehicle over by the air pump at the gas station and check your tire pressure. Try and do this in the morning or after the vehicle has been off the road for at least 5 or 6 hours. When you drive the air inside the tires become warmer and warmer causing them to inflate. The weather can also heat up the tires quicker and cause you to get an inaccurate reading after driving only a few miles.
Choose a weekend day to take your vehicle over to the nearest gas station, the colder they are the more accurate the reading. Make sure your tires are right at or just below 40 PSI. Any more than this can be over inflating and increase your chances of a blowout.
If you’re tires are making a horrible whistling sound as you drive and they are proper inflated you may have an alignment problem. While tire shops have more accurate instruments for checking tire alignment there are some basic ways you can tell if there’s a significant problem. From the front of the parked vehicle (or rear if checking rear tires,) look at the tilt of the tire toward the vehicle’s frame. If they’re tipping in, the tread will show noticeable signs of wear on the inside of the tire. If they are tipping out, you will notice more wear on the outside.
It’s also good to check the tire toes as well. Think of tires just like feet, their fronts are the toes and can tell you a lot about their alignment. If your tires are aligned improperly in a pigeon-toed fashion you will notice wear on the outside. If the tire toes are out you will see wear on the inside, commonly referred to as “feathering”.
This tip should go without saying but is worth mentioning as it is vital to the getting the most efficiency out of all 4 of your tires. Every 6 months or 7,500 miles you should have your tires rotated to new positions on the vehicle. The front tires typically wear quicker than rear unless the vehicle has rear-wheel-drive, than it is close to a 50-50 split. Depending on how often you turn either direction your left and right tires absorb different amounts of wear as well. Rotating the tires ensures that none of them wear out significantly quicker than the others.
Following these basic procedures will help you get the most out of each of your tires and ensure maximum safety and fuel efficiency. Another traditional way of checking the wear of your tires is the coin test. Feel free to use this once in a while even if you are not experiencing any noticeable problems.
Credit to photo by Sulaiman alkhairi
A writer and lifelong grease monkey who enjoys any activity on wheels. When he’s not in the garage he enjoys hitting balls at the driving range and watching his Seattle Seahawks play.