You can have your vehicle tuned to perfection, your paint polished to a shine, and your interior warm and cozy, but if you don’t take proper care of your tires, you won’t be going anywhere in safety. Tire wear and damage gone unnoticed for too long is one of the primary causes of wrecks on the open road. Take a look below at our tire care guide so that you can know all of the important related steps to keeping your vehicle and its occupants safe.
Before we get rolling with tire safety and maintenance, we should let you know that not all tires are created equal. There are varieties for every season and occasion, from all-season tires to winter, summer, all-terrain, and sport varieties. Know what you want out of a tire before you go into the shop to get your vehicle fitted with them. If you are in a hotter climate zone, summer tires might be best, while winter tires are best for the coldest of conditions.
All-terrain tires are grand for off-road adventurers, but those who love putting the pedal to the metal on the open road should probably go with sport tires.
Tire Capability Classifications
For a closer look at what your tires are rated for, take a look at the numbers on the outside. Treadwear grades, traction grades, temperature ratings, and sizes should all be marked there as follows. Treadwear grades reflect the durability of a tire, from 15% at below a 200 rating to 2% at a rating above 600. The higher the numbers here, the better the tire is at handling wear long-term.
Traction grades reflect the tire’s ability to come to a halt on paved roads, both wet and dry. Ratings range from C to AA, with C being the weakest and least common and the AA being the one with the most stopping power. Temperature grades indicate how much heat a tire can handle. The grades range from A to C, reflecting the highest to lowest tolerable temperatures.
Checking Pressure and Tread Level
Now that we have basic varieties and classifications covered and you know what kind of tire you’re looking for, it is time to take a look at basic methods of tire maintenance and care. It may seem like a tiresome chore, but taking care of your tires will save you a mountain of cash in the long run. Below are five things to keep an eye on when you’re checking your tires.
Step one in tire care involves a simple tire pressure check. This can be carried out with a pressure gauge or by tapping the tires hard with your foot in a pinch. If the pressure numbers are low or the tire gives to your foot’s pressure, it needs more air. If the tire seems super-solid, make sure that the pressure isn’t too high. Going too far in either direction in terms of pressure can cause expensive tire failure.
You can measure the wear of your tires over time by taking a close look at the treads. Check your treads at least once a month. If they have worn down to 1/16th of an inch, the time has come to replace them. If they are still thick but have other flaws like cracks or deformations, they should be replaced immediately.
Balance, Alignment, and Rotation
These steps are usually carried out at a dealership’s shop, but they are just as vital to proper tire maintenance and care as the personal checks mentioned above. Keeping your tires balanced will set your wheel rotation so that your vehicle doesn’t shake or vibrate at higher speeds. Improper wheel alignment can drastically reduce tire tread life. Improper balance and alignment can even have negative effects on mileage during long journeys, reducing it by up to 10%.
Tire rotation helps reduce wear, increase fuel efficiency, and evens out tire wear. Uneven wear can kill your tires long before their time, so be sure to get the job done every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Take care though. Some vehicles aren’t meant to have their tires rotated. If your vehicle is one of them, there should be a warning in your owner’s manual.
Load and Speed Limitations
Always take care to note your vehicle’s maximum payload and towing capacity limitations. Going beyond them can destroy your tires in short order. Moving at high speed too often can also cause serious and unnecessary tire wear, so avoid it whenever possible. Many sports utility vehicles and trucks can handle thousands of pounds in each category, but cars tend to have far lower capacities. It is better to make a pair of trips than to overload your vehicle and pay for new tires.
What to do in the Event of a Blowout
Blowouts happen, sometimes even when every base has been covered. If one happens to you, this driving and replacement info should help. When the blowout happens, maintain a two-hand hold on the wheel, gradually let off of the gas, and correct your steering carefully as you move towards the side of the road. Most vehicles have a spare tire as a standard feature, but built-in jacks are less common. Make sure you have a spare tire, a lug wrench, and a jack in your vehicle at all times. You can’t take proper care of your tires without the right tools.
Avoiding Tire Aging
Make sure to replace your tires at least once every six to ten years, depending on capability classification ratings. Tires with higher ratings have longer lifespans. You can find your tire’s age by looking for the DOT tire identification number on your tire’s sidewall. The last four numbers indicate the week and year of the tire’s manufacture, with the first two numbers representing the week and the last two the year.
Equipped with the information we have gathered here for you, you should be well-prepared to hit the road with the certainty that your tires are sound. For further information on proper tire care, visit the professional staff at Huffines Hyundai in Plano, Texas.
Image via Flickr by Dean Hochman