As a new driver, proper tire maintenance is something you should absolutely know about – your tires are the four points of contact between your car and the road, so it’s crucial that they’re always in good working condition.
While regular inspection plays a big role in maintaining your tires, so does safer driving. Going over the speed limit, jerky steering, hitting curbs, and hard acceleration and braking all put stress on your tires, making them wear down faster.
The following six tips are all things you can do regularly so you won’t need to replace your tires as often. Not only will you save money, but you’ll improve your driving performance and fuel efficiency too – which helps you save on gas and insurance!
1. Rotate your tires regularly.
Tires experience different amounts of stress when in contact with the ground. Left, right, front and rear tires all wear down differently (even on all-wheel-drive cars). Tire rotation means changing where the individual tire is mounted on the car. It’s recommended you rotate your tires once every 10,000 to 12,000 km or 6 months.
2. Get a wheel alignment.
Another way to avoid uneven tread wear on your tires is to align your wheels every year or
20,000 km (15,000 miles). Any form of impact to your wheels, such as road accidents or even driving over uneven surfaces (like hitting curbs or potholes) can displace your tires. You’ll know it’s definitely time to get your wheels aligned if your steering wheel isn’t centered, you feel vibration when steering, or your car drifts to one side while driving.
3. Make sure your tires are balanced.
Every time you change or rotate your tires, you should make sure your tires are balanced to prevent premature tread wear. This is a task you’ll need a mechanic’s help with, as it involves using a balancing machine to equalize the weight of the combined tire and wheel assembly so that it spins smoothly at high speed.
4. Check your tire pressure.
Keeping your tires properly inflated ensures that your car is steering, accelerating, and braking as it should be. As a general rule, tires can lose up to 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) every month, so it’s important to check all tires (including the spare) regularly.
Tip: When the temperature drops, so does tire pressure, so your winter tires should be 3-5 PSI higher than the pressure recommended for all-season tires.
This is a task you can easily learn yourself. Purchase a tire pressure gauge, and check when tires are “cold” (before you head out for a drive). Follow the directions in your gauge’s owner’s manual, and compare the measured PSI to the PSI in your car’s owner’s manual. If your PSI is above the recommended number, let some air out of your tire until it matches. If your PSI is too low, then drive to your local gas station to add air, then check if you’ve reached the proper number.
5. Change your tires according to the season.
As discussed in our previous blog post on using the right tires for the season, the increased safety far outweighs the extra effort involved in owning two sets. The benefit to owning two sets of tires will mean they should last twice as long as one set of all-season tires.
6. Store your tires properly.
So you changed your tires, now what? Proper storage keeps your off-season tires in working condition when they aren’t being used. Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to store your tires at home and save yourself some cash.
When is it time to replace your tires?
It depends on a number of factors, some of which are completely out of your control (such as weather conditions). Check with your tire manufacturer if they have a recommended “best before” date.
Your tires will need replacing eventually, so once a month and before you go on long road trips, check your tires for these signs of damage:
- Small stones, nails, and other troublesome objects
- Damaged valve caps
- Uneven tread wear
- Shallow tread
Tip: Don’t mix and match tires. While it may seem more cost effective to replace one or two tires at a time, having mismatched tires can lead to rapid and uneven tread wear, or even mechanical issues.
In the end, it doesn’t cost any more to equip yourself with the right tires, and the right tools will help get more life out of your tires and performance out of your car. When it’s time to change your tires, learn how to do it yourself with our step-by-step illustrated guide.