As you rocket down the road on the way to your destination, your tires have a lot of control over the quality of your ride. Not only do they help your car maintain a firm grip on the asphalt throughout a wide range of weather conditions, but they also absorb shocks from the road. With so much riding on these automotive components, it’s important to take proper care of them. Here are a few regular tire maintenance tips and services to help you get maximum longevity and performance.
Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly
While the exterior of your tires gets a lot of attention, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the rubber. One of the most crucial things to keep an eye on is pressure, as it can affect everything from fuel economy to handling on slicker surfaces. Plan on doing a monthly check and make a special point of doing it before you leave on any long road trips. If your car has a monitoring system, you’ll get an indication when a tire is low, but you’ll still have to use a gauge to figure out which one.
When buying a pressure gauge, you don’t need to go overboard and buy an expensive model, as they all do the same thing. Get one that’s easy to read and attach it to the valve on each tire one by one. Once you get a reading for all four, compare it to the recommended levels published in your owner’s manual and use a pump to inflate accordingly. Some cars even have this information printed on a sticker placed on the driver’s side door frame.
Pay Attention to Tread Depth
Your tires need their treads to maintain traction, and they start to wear away the instant you pull away from the service center. While you can take every precaution to slow things down, it will eventually be time to buy a new set. To help you determine if you’re close to needing replacements, manufacturers install an indicator bar that’s at the minimum depth for safe driving. When the surrounding rubber wears down to meet these bars, it’s time for new tires. You can also stick a penny between treads with Lincoln’s head facing down, and if his entire scalp is visible, you should head to the tire shop.
Adjust Alignment When Necessary
The way your tires sit on the road can have a major impact on your driving experience, and it all comes down to the car’s suspension. When your car’s wheels are misaligned, it can manifest itself with a few specific symptoms:
- Off-center steering wheel when driving straight
- Vehicle pulling to the right or left
- Uneven wear of tire treads
If you experience any of these situations with your car, you can avoid a larger problem by having a licensed technician adjust the alignment as soon as possible. This service consists of straightening the wheels out in three different ways:
- Caster, which is how they’re aligned from front to back
- Camber, which is the alignment from top to bottom
- Toe, which aligns the steering axis
Because your wheels spin at high speeds, weight needs to be evenly distributed for proper motion. Imperfections in the tire making process result in tires that are not perfectly balanced when made, therefore, the tire needs to be balanced to the wheel. While vibrations and uneven wear is often the result of a misalignment, they can also occur because the wheel is out of balance. Weights generally sit between the tire and rim, and over time, they can move out of position. Your technician will take each wheel off and place it on a balancing machine to determine the location of the imbalances before redistributing each weight accordingly. This service is recommended every 5,000-6,000 miles.
Even with proper balance and alignment, your tires are eventually going to wear out in different places based on where they’re mounted on the car. To get the most out of each tire, manufacturers recommend they be rotated to different positions every 6,000 miles. If you have a full-size spare, you can also work this extra wheel into the rotation.
Now that you know more about tire maintenance, you’ll be ready to get the longest possible life out of your next set. If you suspect a problem with your car’s alignment or you need help with another automotive service, contact Sun Devil Auto and schedule an appointment at any of our 19 convenient service centers throughout Arizona today.