Tire care is one aspect of car ownership many people overlook, but this is a mistake. After all, tires are the only part of your car that make contact with the road, and if they are damaged or improperly inflated they can blow out at the worst possible time. Properly inflated tires with good tread help keep you safe on the road. In addition, taking good care of your tires can save you money since the better you take care of them the longer they will last. Here are five tips for taking care of your tires:
Have Them Rotated
Most cars put more wear on the front tires than the back. In order to allow your tires to wear more evenly (so that you can replace them all at the same time later, rather than replace the front tires much sooner), you should have them periodically rotated by a mechanic. Most experts recommend that you have your tires rotated at least once a year, or as often as your car's manufacturer recommends having your oil changed, whichever is sooner. Many auto shops will rotate your tires as part of their oil change service.
Check the Tread
The tread on your tires is extremely important to your safety, as it provides traction and grip on the road, especially in bad weather conditions. Over time, driving on your tires wears away the tread, which makes them dangerous to drive on. It's a good idea to check your tires once a month or so to make sure the tread doesn't look worn down.
An easy way to test the tread to make sure it's still deep enough is to hold a quarter in a tire tread groove. If you can see the top of George Washington's head over the tread, then your tire is too worn. Simply repeat the test on all four tires.
Keep the Right Pressure
Your car should have a recommended tire pressure level listed on a decal on the inside of one of the front doors, or inside the glove box. You can have your tire pressure checked from time to time at a mechanic, often for free or for a nominal fee. Or if you prefer to check your tire pressure yourself, you can purchase a tire gauge online or in any auto supply shop.
Sometimes you take good care of your tires, but due to a manufacturer defect they become part of a safety recall. If you don't know about the recall, you can end up driving around on tires that are unsafe and that could potentially lead to an accident. Luckily, you can register your tires with the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. Once you add your tires to the registry, you will be alerted by email if your tires are part of a safety recall. Your tires will then be replaced with safer models for free.
Use the Right Tires for the Season
If you live somewhere with very snowy winters, you may feel safer driving with snow tires in the winter. These tires are designed to be more rugged and have better grip in order to more effectively get through snow and avoid sliding on ice. Driving with winter tires during warm times of year is less safe though, since the tires aren't designed to drive as easily over warm, dry roads. Driving on out-of-season tires will also wear your tires out more quickly than if you use the appropriate tires for the time of year.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your tires last as long as possible, and improve your car's safety at the same time. If you do need a new set of tires, however, you should be able to find a place in your area that sells them at a reasonable price.