You rely on your tires every day to get you where you need to go. Despite that, tire care is one of the most overlooked aspects of auto maintenance. Most people will check their oil and monitor other vehicle fluids, but probably won’t pay any attention to their tires unless they get a flat. With proper tire care, you can get the most out of your car and even see improvements in fuel efficiency. Check out the following tips for maintenance so you can make sure your tires are ready to roll!
Maintain Tire Pressure
Correct tire pressure is important both in terms of having a smooth ride and increasing your fuel efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, making sure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure can improve your gas mileage by 3.3%. In addition, every 1 psi decrease in pressure can cost you.3% gas mileage! There are tire pressure gauges you can purchase to check pressure on your own. Incorrect tire pressure can also have negative effects on your comfort. You won’t be able to handle bumps in the road as easily so you might find your ride is much less smooth. Check your pressure on a regular basis as part of your tire care plan to ensure you have a comfortable ride and get the best gas mileage possible.
Rotate Your Tires
Any auto maintenance shop can rotate your tires – it’s a pretty standard part of owning and maintaining a car. Rotating your tires is an important part of tire care because it helps distribute the weight and prevents excess wear on certain tires. This way, you will be able to use your tires for longer before they need replacing. You can check your car manual to see when tire rotation is recommended, although many auto maintenance shops include tire rotation standard in their 3,000-5,000 mile tune-ups.
Replace Your Tires When Necessary
Although an expensive part of tire maintenance, replacing your tires is sometimes necessary. When your tire treads wear down they can’t gain proper traction and as a result won’t keep you as safe as possible inside your vehicle. Check your tires to see if you still have a decent amount of tread left or if your tires look very smooth. If they look smooth, it’s definitely time for a replacement. If you aren’t sure, you can ask your mechanic at your next tune-up. They will be able to quickly perform tire service and get you the equipment you need to be as safe as possible in your vehicle.
Figuring out when you need to replace your tires is simple – just try the penny test! Stick a penny into several tread grooves across the tire. If your tire doesn’t cover the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires have less than 2/32″ of tread depth left – not only is this illegal, but it’s very dangerous to drive on!
Have the Right Supplies for a Flat
Flat tires will happen every now and then, so make sure you are prepared as part of your regular tire care. Check to make sure you have a spare tire as well as any of the equipment required to change your tire. Also be sure to look at your spare tire every now and then, as a flat spare tire will do you no good at all! If you want to be really prepared, it is a good idea to try changing your tires once (or learn how if you don’t know!) as it is always a little different on every car. This way, you won’t be stressed out if you ever do get a flat tire.
Replacing a tire is easy. Your tire changing kit should come with a small jack into which you can insert the tire iron. Lift the car off the suspension (this isn’t too difficult) and put the jack under the car next to the wheel well. Turn the tire iron until the jack just lifts the tire all the way off the ground – you don’t need to go any higher than that.
Next, remove the tire iron from the jack (it will stay in place) and use it to remove the lug nuts from the tire. Pop the tire off and put the spare in place, securing it with the lug nuts. The order in which you screw in the lug nuts is very important. Going clockwise, you should follow this order: 1,3,2,4,5. If you go 1,2,3,4,5 the wheel won’t line up properly by the time you get to the end and it will be nearly impossible to get all the nuts on (or take them off!). Remove the jack and put the tire kit back – viola, you’ve just changed a tire!