Although your tires are critical in getting you where you need to go, many people take them for granted. Proper tire maintenance is an essential component of car care and can have many benefits, including improved fuel economy and longer tire life. The following tips can help you keep your tires in top shape.
- Maintain proper tire pressure. Under- and over-inflation of tires creates excessive heat and stress, which can lead to tire failure. Your vehicle’s manufacturer specifies the correct tire pressure for your tires; find it on the inside of your driver’s side door or in your vehicle owner’s manual. Our experts recommend checking your tire pressure once a month and before big trips. Heat can cause tire pressure to rise, so wait at least three hours after driving before checking the pressure, and don’t forget to check the spare. Don’t rely solely on your vehicle’s TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system); while it detects the loss of inflation pressure, the system only alerts you when your tires are already 25% under-inflated.
- Rotate your tires regularly. Tire rotation can prevent irregular tread wear. While there’s no universal recommendation for rotating your tires, your vehicle owner’s manual contains mileage recommendations for rotation. Our experts recommend rotation every 5,000 to 8,000 miles if no recommendation is listed. Don’t forget to re-check your tire pressure after rotation; ask your technician to make sure your pressure is set to your vehicle manufacturer’s specification.
- Visually inspect your tires. Check your tires routinely for any objects which may have penetrated the exterior. Sidewalls may show bulges, gouges, cuts or irregularities. Check the tread to make sure there are no unusual tread wear patterns which could indicate larger issues like misalignment.
- Check your alignment. Improper alignment can cause premature tread wear. Have your alignment regularly checked by experts to help lengthen the life of your tires and prevent premature or irregular tread wear.
- Do the penny test. Tires with worn tread have reduced traction and are more likely to hydroplane or fail. Use a penny to check your tires’ tread depth: when holding a penny upside down, if the top of Abe Lincoln’s head doesn’t disappear within the tread, your tires are unsafe and need to be replaced. Most tires also have built-in tread wear indicators called wear bars which appear when the tire is worn to 2/32 of an inch, the official standard for bald tires. If you’re unsure of your tread depth, ask our expert technicians to take a look.
- Monitor tire age. Tires usually last between three and five years, depending on climate and driving patterns. Tires which have been in use for five or more years should be checked by a specialist annually, and tires over ten years should be replaced as a precaution.
Bring your car into your local Sears Auto Center for a free tire check and free tire rotation today. Our experts will help you identify your proper tire pressure and answer any questions you may have about tire maintenance.