Tires are what keep us connected safely to the road, and are not something to be neglected. A regular inspection of your tires will help keep you safe by catching potential problems before they become big ones that leave you stranded. This checklist will help you learn how to know if your tires are unhealthy, and what to look for to resolve the problem quickly.
AIR PRESSURE CHECK
About once a month, use a tire air pressure gauge to check your tires, before they have been driven or at least three hours after. Your own pressure gauge, as opposed to a public, gas station gauge, will be more accurate.
Low tire pressure can lessen your gas mileage. The maximum operating pressure is imprinted on the sidewall of the tire, and is determined by the tire manufacturer. Use the proper inflation as recommended by your vehicle per your owner’s manual. If you don’t have the manual, you can order one online, or check the doorjamb, fuel hatch or glove box for a sticker with the inflation information.
If you are planning a long trip, check your tire pressure and tread before you hit the road. Check your spare tire as well, just to be sure, in case it is needed.
TIRE TREAD CHECK
Tread wear indicators are in every tire at the 2/32” tread level. If you are able to see the color of the indicator, in any place on the tire, it means it is time for it to be replaced. You can also use a tread depth gauge to determine the height of the tread and if it is 4/32 or less it is considered ready for tire replacement. Don’t have a tread gauge? Find a quarter, and use this trick: Place the quarter in a tread line, if the tread doesn’t hit Washington’s head, the tire needs to be replaced.
Tires should be rotated about every 6-8,000 miles, or as suggested by your owner’s manual, to extend the life of the tires and save you money. Changing the tires’ position helps them all wear more evenly.
Avoid taking curves at high speeds and starting or stopping quickly as this can reduce tread.
UNEVEN WEAR PATTERN CHECK
Look for uneven wear patterns as well as this can indicate something more is wrong with the vehicle and it requires maintenance. The most common are:
If the vehicle’s front and/or rear suspension are not aligned, the tires will show uneven tread. An adjustment, known as a wheel alignment, will help improve the vehicle handling and improve your tire performance. Simply hitting a curb or potholes, going over railroad crossings or uneven terrain can cause the need for an alignment.
Try to avoid potholes, curbs and other obstructions that can damage your vehicle and/or cause alignment issues.
A wheel can become out of balance when one area of the tire is heavier than the rest. Not only can balance effect the tread of the tire, but it can cause a vibration when driving. This vibration causes stress on the front end of the vehicle and can cause part failure. Balancing creates compensation for weight issues on the tire or due to mounting. When a tire is replaced or rotated, balancing should be done.
Vehicle vibrations are to be taken seriously and should be checked right away. The vibration can be a result of problems with suspension, steering, even tires or brakes.
By taking time each month to check your tires and getting regular preventative maintenance by an auto mechanic, you can keep your vehicle lasting longer and keep yourself safe behind the wheel. If you have questions about auto repairs, recommended services or general automotive safety, give Airport Automotive a call. We are happy to help you understand your vehicle and make better informed decisions.