Getting the Most Out of Your Tires

Worn Out Tires
Tire pressure, alignment and tread wear are the main killers of tires over time. You can take steps to counteract tread wear by rotating your tires and stay on top of the other issues with routine checks and basic tire maintenance.

Tire Pressure

Tires are built to specifications that they are intended to be driven on. Under or over inflating tires can cause damage to the tire and each vehicle has a tire size\pressure combination that it is intended to run at. There is actually a tire load index that manufacturers release to determine what your tires can safely carry. For example, if a tire has a load index of 92, it can support 1,389 pounds at maximum air pressure. Multiply that by four tires (4 x 1,389 = 5,556 pounds) to get your car’s maximum load carrying capacity. Never install tires with a lower load carrying capacity than the original tires that were factory installed on your vehicle.
Those rims and low profile tires you want may look the way you want, but they need to support your car’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  This number can be found in the owner’s manual.  You don’t exactly need to do all the math yourself, but keep it in mind and if you have questions about it, ask your mechanic or a tire shop to confirm the tires will work with your car.

Check Pressure Weekly

For every 10-degree Fahrenheit decrease in temperature, the pressure will drop 2 psi (pounds per square inch). So, as it gets colder and when we experience Texas weather fluctuations where we get all the seasons in one day, tires will need to be checked and inflated more often. Tires naturally lose pressure as well. Some newer cars often have features like a Tire Pressure Management System that lets you check on the pressure of each tire from the dashboard.

Alignment

If your car actively pulls or drifts right or left, or the steering wheel vibrates or shakes, your car may have a wheel alignment problem. Your vehicle could be driving fine and still be out of alignment. When you bump up against a parking lot barrier, hit a pothole, or hit the curb, something has to give, and it’s often your alignment. Driving while out of alignment unevenly causes wear on the tread, even if it is not a noticeable pull while driving. If it IS a noticeable pull, it is something you will want to have corrected by a mechanic and getting ahead of the issue before it causes your tires to be ruined or even causes blowout can save you a ton of pain and money. You should have it checked every six months or whenever you think something is wrong.

Tread Wear

Do not wait until you can actively feel your vehicle pulling one way or another. If you do, it may already be too late to prevent premature wear. Run your hand over the thread and visually inspect the tires. You should look for distortion in the tread, feathering or cupping. If corrected early enough, bad wear patterns can be countered by rotating the tires, and tire life can be extended. Tire rotation makes it more likely that the treads will wear down evenly. Rotate your tires every 5,000 miles. Front wheel drive has more wear on, you guessed it, the front wheels. That can cause uneven tire wear. On rear-wheel drive vehicles, it’s the back tires. Even all-wheel drive vehicles can see uneven wear, as most shift the drive from one wheel to another.  If you replace a tire, it is important that you replace it with the same kind of tire. It is recommended that you replace your tires after 6 years of age, regardless of tread depth.

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