February 23, 2017

Maximize Tire Tread Life: Top Ten Tips with Videos

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Tires and Auto Safety

Do not drive on tires that have less than 1/16 inch of tread. Low tire tread increases your stopping distance and makes you more likely to get in a car accident. [5] Buying new tires costs money, so maximize tire tread life with these ten expert tips.

Tip 1: Check Tire Air Pressure

Every time you fill your gas tank, check your air levels with a tire gauge. Compare the air level on the gauge with the manufacturer’s recommended air level. This is printed on the side of your tires in raised rubber. Without checking, you probably will not even notice your tires are low in air until they are down to half the recommended inflation. [2] In the references below, all the experts agree that correct tire air pressure is the number one way to slow down tire tread wear.

Lunawebs: How to Use a Tire Gauge

Tip 2: Add air if your tire pressure is low

Inflate your tires with the air pump that most gas stations provide for their customers. Add a puff of air and then measure with a gauge. Let air out with the gauge if you inflate beyond the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure.

Tip 3: Rotate Your Tires

Put your tires in different positions on your car as often as your owner’s manual recommends. Rotating tires is like rotating volleyball players. Have each tire “play” a different position on your car, and prevent deep ruts from forming on your tires. Make the rubber wear evenly. Use more of the rubber on all of your tires before you need to replace them. If your vehicle manufacturer doesn’t recommend rotation intervals, then rotate your tires every 5,000 miles. [3]

Tip 4: Balance Your Tires

Counteract vibrations and wheel wobbling by having your tires balanced by a technician with access to electronic equipment. Even small vibrations that you cannot feel can cause your tires to wear unevenly, which makes your tires wear out sooner than they should. [4] Electronic equipment detects the smallest vibrations and tells the technician where to place weights in order to make your tires roll smoothly. Balance your tires any time something effects their smooth rolling, such as skidding when you brake, peeling out when you start, repairing a flat tire, rotating your tires, or adjusting your alignment.

Tip 5: Correct Wheel Alignment

Straighten out wheels that get knocked crooked whenever you go over a pot hole by having your wheel alignment adjusted. [4] Get this done at a shop with electronic alignment equipment that can measure both types of misalignment: camber and toe. Correcting wheel alignment helps maximize tire tread life because crooked tires rub the road more. [4]

Tip 6: Maintain Suspension Components

Stick to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for suspension components. Have a licensed technician check your suspension once a year and any time your tire tread becomes uneven or your car does not ride smoothly. Faulty suspension components can mess up your wheel alignment. [4]

Tip 7: Brake Early

Brake early rather than at the last second, and do not peel out when you start your vehicle. Skidding your tires flattens a spot on each tire. A flat spot on your tire causes static vibration — the car moves up and down. [4] A technician can balance this vibration, but a flattened tire will wear out sooner than it needs to.

Tip 8: Avoid Obstacles

Avoid running over potholes, rocks, curbs and other obstacles that jar your vehicle unnecessarily. Jarring your vehicle messes up tire balance and wheel alignment, which causes premature wear on your tire tread.

Tips 9 & 10: Store and Transport Tires Properly

Keep your off-season tires away from sunlight, freezing temperatures, electrical sparks, solvents, automotive fluids and other acids. Store them indoors in your garage, basement or shed. If you must store them outdoors then place them inside garbage bags or under a tarp. If tires are exposed to freezing temperatures then warm them up to an indoor temperature of about about 70° F for at least 24 hours before you use them. Freezing and then stressing an unmounted tire can cause the rubber to crack and become useless. [6]

References

[1] Firestone Auto Care: Tips on Tire Tread Wear

[2] OK Tire Stores: Truck Tires 101 – Making your tires last longer

[3] NittoChannel: The Importance of Proper Wheel Alignment

[4] NittoChannel: The Importance of Tire Balance

[5] Safercar.gov: Tire Tread

[6] Hoosier Racing Tires: Freeze Warning

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Series NavigationBuying Tires – the Best WayEmergency Kit for Your Car – Urban and Suburban Driving

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