Today’s cars come with different kinds of tires from fuel-efficient ones to sticky semi-slicks. But even if they’re the cheapest kind, tires can be quite costly to replace, especially if you have to change all four at a time. But there are ways to protect your tires. Let’s list them for you:
- Improve your driving habits. Fast turns, jackrabbit starts, speeding, and abrupt stops all cause more tire wear. Make it a point to avoid obstacles like curbs, potholes, and rocks. Even if these don’t puncture a tire, constant scraping against a curb or slamming into potholes can wear down the tire.
- Occasionally inspect your tires. When you see scrapes, bulges, and the like, it means it’s time for a new tire. Also, noises, pulling, or vibration while driving can sometimes mean the tires need to be replaced.
- Once a month, check your tires’ air pressure using a tire pressure gauge. Do this when the tires are cold. Having warm tires can cause inaccurate readings. Always follow the recommended tire pressure indicated in your owner’s manual. If you neglect this chore, there’s probably a little flat spot on the bottom of the tire. It wears out the tires and can negatively affect your fuel mileage as well. Newer cars though come equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems. Those could be of help.
- Tires need to be properly aligned. Even before bringing it to a shop, you can check it right in your driveway. Check for camber, the tilt of the tire toward or away from the frame of the car, by standing in front or behind of the parked car. If the tires tip in—the tops are closer together than the bottoms—the tread will wear away on the inside of the tire first. If they tip out—bottoms closer than the tops—there will be more wear on the outside. You can also check the toe, or stance of the tires, in your driveway. Think of the tires on one axle, either front or rear, as feet. The front of the tires, in either case is where the toes would be. Toe in means the fronts of the tires are closer together, like standing pigeon-toed and the tread will wear from the outside. Toe out means the rear of the tires are closer together, like the first position in ballet, and will wear the tires from the inside. Some alignment or toe problems though, can’t be recognized visually, so it’s best to bring your car to a reputable shop.
- Have tires rotated, if you do bring your car in for wheel alignment. This ensures a more even wear and better mileage. Rotating tires means taking them all off and moving each one to a new position on the car. Most automakers recommend rotating tires every 10,000 kilometers, but again, check your manual just to be sure. If your car has a full-sized spare tire, include that in the rotation. Take note that tire rotation also depends on whether your car is sporting tires with a particular side (asymmetrical) or direction (unidirectional).
With tires, a little maintenance goes a long way. This can save you money and potential headaches in the long run.