What You Need To Know About Your Tires

They’re between you and the road. Maintaining your tires is key to proper performance. The Digby Biggest Dog in the World download

I recently put four new tires on our 2005 Nissan Murano and it cost me $595, which was a great deal compared to what most places were charging. After they were installed though, they needed to be balanced properly to get the most out of the tires and to provide proper performance. I thought I would include an article here on the importance of maintaining your tires and some tools you can get to assist with getting the most out of your tires.

What is connecting your car to the road? When you get asked that question it doesn’t take long to come up with the proper answer. But for some reason, people tend to forget that the only part of their vehicle touching the road is four small patches of rubber we affectionately call tires. Spending a million dollars on a vehicle but neglecting tire care basically relegates your tires to the same performance stats as lawnmower tires.

But your high performance car is not a lawnmower you argue. Ok, we believe you. Keeping your tires properly inflated to the manufacture’s recommended specs is the key to preventing any future confusion as to whether or not you’re driving a lawnmower. Grab your pressure gauge and check your tire’s inflation at least once a month.

If every month you have to add more than a few psi to a tire, then there is an underlying problem. There could be a tire/wheel assembly problem. It’s wise to contact a tire professional immediately if this is suspected. Check the pressure when you tires are cold before you do ANY driving. Just driving down your driveway causes your pressure to increase and you’ll get an bogus reading. A digital gauge gives a far more precise reading than a conventional gauge.

Tire GaugeThe Accutire MS-4710 features a large LCD readout, and a ruggedly designed plastic metallic body with rubberized sure grip handle. It measures from 5 to 99 psi in 1/2-pound increments, auto on/off, permanent lifetime lithium battery, plus a 5 year warranty. The 4710 has an added advantage with a longer reach neck for those hard to reach valve stems. It’s perfect for deep offset wheels.

Here are some visual cues to gauge whether or not you have an inflation problem:

Wear on Both Edges: UNDER INFLATION A tire that has both side edges worn down may be under inflated. Too little pressure is a tire’s worst fate as it reduces its life. The abnormal wear patterns can also cause handling anomalies which could result in an accident. This excessive wear generates excessive heat which reduces the tire’s overall durability – or worse, a flat. Your fuel economy is also affected by the increase of rolling resistance (under inflated tires makes your vehicle expend more energy). Regularly check for proper inflation. Shoulder wear on a tire often is caused by misalignment.

Wear in the Center: OVER INFLATION When you eat too much you get fat in the middle. The same goes for your tires. When a tire has too much air in it – it is over inflated. The center of the tire balloons out and bears the load of the car causing the center to wear out faster than the outer edges. Over inflation is dangerous because under rough terrain or under heavy loads, the added stress can cause the tire to “blowout.” Have your alignment looked at; perform any recommended necessary services.

Maintaining proper inflation levels is only one part of tire maintenance. Here are some other areas to pay attention to ensure your tires, and vehicle, reach their potentials:

Tire Tread
“A penny earned is a penny saved,” or something like that. A penny is still useful these days. They are great for checking your tire’s tread depth. Insert a penny into a tread slot with Lincoln upside-down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head when you look level with the tire it is time to replace it. Also most passenger, light truck, and medium commercial tires have tread wear indicators molded into the tread. It is time to replace a tire when the indicator becomes visible.

Cups or Dips in the tread: WORN PARTS Cupping (also called dipping or scalloping) is most common on front tires, though rear tires can also cup depending on the rear suspension setup. The steering components may be worn out or the wheels are out of balance if you notice that any of your tires are cupped.

Sawtooth edges: MISALIGNMENT Do the edges of your tires tread look like a saw was taken to them? Literally this is what is happening to them. The road is chewing, sawing, at your tires and it won’t be long before the tire is completely destroyed. The solution is a toe-in or toe-out alignment correction.

Tire Balancing
You’re driving down the road and your steering wheel is bouncing around in unison with the beat blaring from your car’s speakers. Soon comes the headache as the vibration starts working its way from your hands into the back of your skull. If this describes a typical day behind the wheel for you, then its time to get your car balanced. Unbalanced tires cause vibration, which can fatigue the driver, and cause premature tire wear. It also places a lot of unnecessary stress on your vehicle’s suspension. Balance your tires when you have a new tire mounted on your rim, or after you have had a repair on some part of the wheel. Bring your car into the shop right when your car begins to vibrate or shimmy.

Vehicle Alignment
When you turn the steering wheel right and your car wanders left it would be a pretty good indication your car needs an alignment service. A poorly aligned vehicle will suffer from many different ailments. The worst being the wear it places on your tires. A vehicle is properly aligned when there are no abnormal signs of treadwear and all suspension and steering components are functioning within recommended guidelines.

Tire Rotation
Tire rotation can easily be performed in your own garage. No need to go to the repair shop, unless you are not one to do your own repairs. Refer to your owner’s manual on their recommendations. Roll-out your floor jack and do it yourself. Remember to initially loosen your lugnuts before you jack up your vehicle. Use jack stands for safety. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual specifies the proper rotation pattern, which tire is changed with which, and recommends the schedule for performing it. Sometimes there is no schedule specified. It doesn’t mean that that a rotation should never be performed. If there is clear information in your manual, a good rule of thumb to follow is to rotate them every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Don’t forget to torque your lugnuts to specifications.

Proper tread depth is essential for proper tire performance. If you notice a loss or change in wet traction, you may not have enough tread left on your tires. Replace a tire once the tread depth reaches 1/16th of an inch.

For additional tire care products be sure and check out the following:

Deluxe Contour Tire Care Brush
Seasonal Tire Tote

John BoydAuto Broker – John Boyd “The Cool Car Guy”
John is an automotive consultant with JFR & Associates in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide!
Call or email John about your next vehicle!

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