Does your regular “tire maintenance” consist of eyeballing your tires as you walk up to your car? True tire maintenance, done on a regular schedule, will stretch the life of your tires, get you more miles per gallon and, most important, prevent handling problems in slick conditions. As winter approaches, proper maintenance of your vehicle’s tire is more important than ever!
Pressure. Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You don’t want pressure too low (tire edges wear faster), and you don’t want it too high (tire middle wears faster). You want it just right (tire wears evenly). Uneven wear shortens the life of the tire and reduces fuel efficiency. Maintaining tire pressure during winter is a little tricky. A drop of just 10 degrees Fahrenheit can cause your tires to lose a pound of pressure per square inch (psi). Add that to the typical loss of 1 psi per month, and you can see how it adds up.
How often: Monthly
How to remember: Check tire pressure when you check your home’s smoke alarms.
Rotation. When tires aren’t regularly rotated and balanced, they tend to wear irregularly. As a result, they don’t last as long. Vehicles come with specific manufacturer recommendations for how often their tires should be rotated. In many cases, failure to keep up with a rotation schedule will void a tire warranty. Because rotation is so important to tire life, most tire warranties cover the cost of tire rotation.
How often: Every 5,000 to 7,000 miles
How to remember: Turn your oil-change sticker upside-down every other visit. When it’s time to have your oil changed, if the sticker is upside-down, have your tires rotated, too.
Tread. In wet weather, tires with shallow tread are at risk of hydroplaning. That’s when a thin layer of water comes between the tires and the road. Then you lose steering and braking control. On snow, there will be little to no traction. Don’t wait until you’ve hydroplaned or slipped off snowy roads to tell whether your tread is too shallow. Instead insert a penny, head first, into the tire tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s time for new tires. Wisconsin law requires that each tire on a vehicle have this minimum amount of tread (2/32 of an inch), as measured in two different spots on each tire.
How often: Yearly
How to remember: When the trees go bald, think about your tires going bald, too! Let those piles of autumn leaves serve as your reminder to check tire tread.
Alignment. Simply put, cars are supposed to drive straight unless you turn the steering wheel. Yet even everyday driving can nudge things out of alignment over time. Imagine what hitting a pothole can do! Not aligned, tires don’t roll straight, so they don’t wear evenly and don’t last as long. A car out of alignment is more difficult to handle, too. It will continually pull a little (or a lot) to one side. When tires are aligned, they face less resistance on the road, so you get better gas mileage and safer handling.
How often: Yearly
How to remember: Just do it when you’re checking tire tread!
The easiest way to make sure your tires are always in tip-top driving condition is to leave them to a professional. At Midas, our technicians will inspect, rotate, and balance your tires, as scheduled by your vehicle’s manufacturer. When it’s time for new tires, we’ll let you know. We’ll also help choose the right tires for your type of car and type of driving. Then we’ll make sure they’re properly installed, so you’re good to go!