Car tires can be costly, but through proper car tire maintenance, consumers can make sure their car’s tires can go the extra mile. Maintaining your vehicle’s tires should be a regular part of service and should be done just as often as an oil change or a windshield fluid fill-up. The goal is to rotate tires to allow for even wear across all four tires, reduce rolling resistance as much as possible by proper inflation and reduce the chance of uneven wear on the surface of the tire through proper alignment.
Frequently Rotating Tires
Most tire manufacturers recommend that drivers rotate the tires on their vehicle every 3,000 miles. The front tires will wear much faster on any vehicle due to the turning that they must do. If not frequently rotated, the front tires can last only a third of the time that the back tires can and once you replace only two tires on the vehicle, the wear patterns can start to become uneven.
To rotate your vehicle’s tires, switch the front driver’s side tire with the passenger’s side rear tire. The rear driver’s side tire is then switched with the passenger’s side front to complete an “X” shaped pattern. See your tire dealer if you have asymmetrical tires as these need to be rotated differently.
Maintaining Correct Tire Pressure
If a tire is under-inflated, it can cause wear along the outer edges of the tread and it causes added rolling resistance. If a tire is over-inflated, it can cause wear to the center of the tread. Either way, undue stress is being placed on the tire and the tread is being worn prematurely. To keep this from happening, it’s important to check the owner’s manual or the sticker inside the driver’s door for the proper inflation measurements for the tires. The tire pressure will naturally increase in warm weather, so you may need to check the pressure periodically to ensure it hasn’t climbed too high. And the pressure will decrease in cooler weather, so you may have to add more air in the winter time to keep the tires properly inflated.
To check the air pressure in your tires, unscrew the cap on the tire and use a pressure gauge to register the amount of air in the tire. The recommended number of pounds of air may vary depending on the type of tires used.
Keeping Proper Alignment
It is important to keep all tires aligned center with the vehicle, so that the tires wear evenly. If even one tire is misaligned, you may end up needing to replace it, and since it’s recommended that you don’t replace just one tire, you may end up replacing two, or even all four. An alignment is usually done at a garage that has the equipment to line up all four tires perfectly straight; however, there are ways of doing this at home if you have a level surface and the correct tools.
The alignments that a technician or do-it-yourself-er would be looking for when re-aligning a vehicle are the caster, the camber, and the toe-in or toe-out. The caster is where the vehicle sits on top of the tire, and the angle at which the front tires pivot when turning. The camber is the angle of the wheel compared to flat surface of the ground. The wheel should always be perfectly perpendicular to the ground and the toe-in or toe-out is the angle at which the front tires point inward or outward when the steering wheel and the other steering mechanisms are perfectly straight.