As someone who’s highly conscious about the safety of their vehicle — and wants to learn as much as possible about the topic — a great place to start is knowing the ins and outs of tires. Indeed, you’re likely highly motivated to ensure your four tires remain in tip-top shape.
Fortunately, keeping your tires in good, working order isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming — and you can definitely learn how with the following tips:
1. Check the Tire Pressure
One of the quickest and easiest ways to ensure your tires are in good condition is to check their air pressure every month. In fact, maintaining proper air pressure levels in your set of tires will help to distribute the weight of your car evenly across the tires’ tread pattern, which will keep your vehicle as stable as possible.
Under-inflated tires will not only “flex” more when you stop or maneuver around a tight corner, but will also not be as responsive as they could be when properly inflated. Meantime, over-inflated tires can lose traction, because the added air will cause the tire to deform, reducing its “tire print” on the road. Additionally, over-inflated tires are stiffer to drive on and may not respond well when driving over potholes.
You can usually tell by looking at your tires if they’re under- or over-inflated. Tires with less-than-ideal air pressure will show wear on the outside edges of the treads, while those with too much air pressure wear down the middle. To avoid these issues, check your tire pressure when the tires are cold with a high-quality tire gauge available at any auto parts store.
2. Measure the Treads
Ever worn an old pair of shoes in the rain, only to find the worn-down soles caused you to slip and slide all over the sidewalk? The same is true with tires and treads. As the soles of your car’s “shoes” wear down, your tires won’t be able to grip the road as effectively. In fact, maintaining proper tread depth will not only improve your car’s handling and maintain your traction on the road, but will also reduce the chances of hydroplaning during a rainstorm if your air pressure is too low.
With that in mind, make it a habit to check your treads at least once a month. To do so, take a penny and place it into the treads of all four tires, with Abraham Lincoln’s head facing down. If you cannot see the top of Honest Abe’s head, then one or more of your tires has a minimum amount of tread left.
But if you can’t see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it’s time to replace these tires sooner rather than later. Additionally, if you routinely drive on we pavement, experts suggest using a quarter instead of a penny to check measure your tire tread. Use the top of George Washington’s head as a guide; if his noggin isn’t visible, that means you still have at least 4/32nds of an inch of tread left. Keep the penny and quarter in your glove box, so you can easily check the treads at any time.
3. Rotate Your Tires Regularly
Rotating your tires on a regular basis isn’t just meant as a courtesy; it offers numerous benefit, too. In fact, to extend the life of your tires and ensure they wear evenly, you’ll want to rotate them on a regular basis. Tires that wear down evenly also handle better.
For instance, if tires on a front-wheel-drive car are overdue for a rotation, the front tires will end up with less tread than the ones in the rear of your vehicle, making your vehicle more difficult to control. In general, it’s recommended you rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles or every six months — whichever comes first.
Be Vigilant and Proactive
You don’t have to wait until you’re sliding across a slick road to start checking your tires. Be proactive and check your tires’ air pressure and treads on a regular basis, as well as schedule tire rotations at least twice a year. These steps will help ensure your tires wear evenly and will keep you and your family as safe as possible while on the road.
Author Info: Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 18 years. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Alison thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide variety of people and topics. When she is not writing, Alison can be found hanging out with her family—which includes three wonderful rescue dogs—and sipping a caffeinated beverage from Starbucks.