Though tires are an often overlooked contributor to car performance, they have a big impact on vehicle health and safety. As the only point of contact between the road and your car, they influence turn control, the ability to break, and even how smooth your ride is. To ensure your tires are in optimal driving condition, here are a few things you should monitor:
Tires can lose up to one pound per square inch (psi) of air every month. Most experts recommend checking all tires, including your spare, about once a month and more often during colder weather. For routine testing at home, you should always test tires “cold” – before driving or three hours after you’ve driven- with a trusted pressure gauge. Reference the sticker inside the driver’s door of your car, or your owner’s manual, to find the optimal pressure levels for your vehicle. Maintaining the manufacturer recommended tire pressure helps achieve better gas mileage.
Read more: Tire Care and Safety: Replacing Old Tires
Through normal wear and tear, a tire’s tread is worn off, limiting traction and making punctures more likely. Tires with low tread depth or uneven wear can also contribute to poor braking and lack of control, especially in icy conditions, while neglecting leaks and punctures can lead to long-term gas mileage decreases and added strain on the tire. Treads should be visually inspected regularly and professionally checked about once a year for uneven or irregular wear, as well as cuts, punctures, and bruises along sidewalls. Tires should be replaced as soon as possible when worn or damaged, to avoid a costly blowout.
Each tire on a car wears at a different rate. Front wheels will wear faster from steering than the rear wheels, which simply follow, while turning radius and braking habits also impact how fast each tire wears. By moving tires to equalize wear, rotation can extend the life of all tires by several thousand miles. Most mechanics recommend rotating tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles to promote uniform tire wear.
Uneven wear can also indicate an alignment problem, so most experts recommend having your alignment checked at least once a year. If your vehicle shakes or pulls to one side, it could be a sign of an alignment issue.
Our expert mechanics can help you choose the right tire type for your price point, driving habits, and most common driving conditions. Call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.
This article was originally published on June 8, 2017.