Let’s talk tires. No, not the tire around your middle, but tires as in cars, as in tire pressure and maintenance. Actually, as long as we’re comparing tires to parts of the human body, they really function more like feet. Both your feet and tires carry a big load in proportion to their size. For tires on the average car, that’s somewhere between three and four thousand pounds. And like your feet, tires are generally taken for granted until there’s a problem.
There are two keys to trouble free tires, proper inflation and tire maintenance. Both are especially important in the summer. With vacations, camping trips and other excursions, we tend to travel more and carry heavier loads in our cars. Combine that with heat and you have more stress on your tires.
It’s a good idea to inspect your tires once a week. When checking for tire pressure, it’s important to do this early in the morning, or late in the day, when your tires are cool and you haven’t done much driving yet. Otherwise, you’ll get a false reading on your tire gauge. Remember, air expands when heated. Also, check your tires for foreign objects, like nails or anything else that could cause a slow leak.
As a mechanic, it amazes me how many people neglect their tires, especially women. Maybe it’s the advent of self-serve gas. In the old days before the energy crunch, gas station attendants would check things like tire pressure. But whatever the reason, I find many of the cars I work on, show signs of poor tire inflation. To me, that’s like running around with one shoe that has a bigger heel that the other, which not only feels funny, but could throw you off balance. With a car, it’s the same story.
For example, if one of your front tires had more air than the other, your car would veer to the side with less air. This not only causes poor handling, but under certain conditions, could contribute to an accident.
Improperly inflated tires will also cause your tires to wear unevenly. Without enough air, your tires won’t roll down the road the way they’re supposed to. In fact, the weight of the car could shift to the sidewalls, which are made of a softer material. If the sidewalls wear away, that increases the risk of a blow-out. You can locate your vehicles tire pressure in several places, in your owner’s manual, on the decal located either on the driver’s door, or door pillar post and stamped on the tire sidewall.
Tire sidewalls are also susceptible to cracking, mostly because of the detergent we use to wash our cars. To prevent sidewalls from splitting, I recommend moisturizing your tires with a protectant call Clear Guard. After washing your car, spray it on a rag, then wipe each tire.
Another way to prevent tires from balding is to have them rotated every five thousand miles or every other oil change. You need to do this, because your front tires turn differently than the rear ones, so they wear faster. By switching the front and rear tires back and forth, you won’t have to replace them so quickly.
Proper tire balancing will also help your treads wear evenly. If the ride on your tires suddenly feels bumpy, it’s probably time to get the balance checked. What tire dealers do is clip small weights on the rim of your wheels, so the tires will spin uniformly. Although tires are made from molds, each one comes out differently. Some have less rubber in some spots, so weights must be added to compensate.
Also, it’s important to keep your front end properly aligned. Your tires need to be aligned so they point straight down the road. Otherwise, your car will tend to drift to one side, which will also cause your tires to wear unevenly.
Many tire dealers include services like rotation and balancing in the price of the tires. So when you go out tire shopping, keep this in mind. Also, when you get new tires, this is a good time to an extra fifty five dollars to get the front end aligned.
It’s all worth the extra money, because good tire maintenance can extend the life of your tires by fifty percent, or more. But most of all, it’s a small price to pay for your safety. In the mean time, “Happy Treads to you”.
If you are looking for a Tire Gauge here is a great one you can get at Harbor Freight Tools