Your tires play a huge role in roadway safety. They affect your handling, braking, and traction in all sorts of weather conditions. For optimal performance, your tires must have the correct air pressure and tread depth. Follow these DIY maintenance tips to ensure proper tire safety and avoid dangerous situations on the road.
Conduct a Visual Inspection of Your Tires
Make a habit of inspecting your tires often, especially before a long drive. The more often you check your tires, the more likely you’ll find small problems, such as a nail in the tire, so you can fix it before it causes real trouble.
Here are the issues to look for when you visually inspect your tires:
- Over inflation: This causes the tire’s middle section to have greater contact with the road than the outer edges, wearing down the center of the tread faster. Over inflation could also cause your tire to pop as the internal temperature and pressure become too high.
- Under inflation: When there isn’t enough air in the tires, the outer edges make greater contact with the road. This increases friction, lowering your gas mileage and wearing out the rubber faster. It can also lead to a blowout as the tire starts wobbling at high speeds.
- Erratic tread wear: If the tire tread looks new in some places and worn in others, this could indicate an out-of-balance wheel or shock absorbers in need of replacement. When the greatest area of wear is located on the edge of the tire, the wheel may be out of alignment.
- Raised portion of the tread or sidewall: This could indicate the separation of a belt in the tire carcass with the ones next to it.
Take Notice of Problems While Driving
Listen and feel for anything strange while driving that could reveal a problem with your tires. Examples include:
- Unusual thumping or vibration: This indicates that a tire is out of balance or has a separated belt. It could also mean you’ve created a flat spot on the tire tread from slamming on your brakes.
- Pulling to one side: Get up to highway speed and take your hands off the wheel. If you feel the car pull to one side, and it’s not a windy day, this could indicate an underinflated or damaged tire on one side of the car. It could also mean poor wheel alignment or a brake problem.
Assess the Tire Tread Depth
Sufficient tire tread is important for maintaining traction, especially on wet or icy roads. Check the tire tread depth once a month to spot uneven or excessive wear. To help you know when it’s time to replace your tires, conduct the traditional penny test.
Insert a penny into the tire tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can’t see the top of his head, the tire tread is still above 2/32”, and your tires are still safe to use. Conduct this test in three locations across the tire’s tread (outer edge, center, and inside edge). If Lincoln’s head is fully visible in any of the three test locations, it’s time to get new tires.
Check Tire Air Pressure
Proper inflation increases gas mileage and extends the life of your tires. Ensuring proper air pressure is easy. Just follow these steps once a month:
- Check your owner’s manual or the decal attached to the driver’s door jamb for the recommended tire pressure. For your reference, 35 psi is a common recommendation.
- Measure the pressure before driving anywhere, so the air inside the tires is at ambient temperature.
- Remove the tire’s valve cap and place the tire gauge over the valve stem. Press firmly, so no air escapes and you get an accurate reading.
- Add air to the tire if necessary based on the pressure reading you get.
- Recheck the pressure after a few seconds of adding air to ensure you don’t over-inflate the tire. If the pressure goes too high, use the nipple on the opposite side of the tire gauge to press the valve stem and release a bit of air.
- Replace the valve cap and move on to the other tires. Don’t forget to inflate the spare!
NOTE: If the tires are warm when you take your pressure reading, the gauge may show up to 5 psi higher than a true “cold” reading. Don’t remove too much air from warm tires or they will underperform.
Come to Scott’s Fort Collins Auto for Tire Maintenance & Replacement
Measuring your tires’ tread depth and ensuring proper inflation help to extend the life of your tires, but these tasks aren’t enough. You should also plan to visit Scott’s in Fort Collins for tire rotation, tire balancing, and wheel alignment services. Then, when the time comes, we can outfit your vehicle with new tires from one of today’s most trusted brands. Our ultimate goal is to help your car drive smoothly and safely out there on the road!
To schedule an appointment for tire maintenance or replacement, please call us at (970) 682-4202 and let us know when you’d like to stop by.