Your car’s tires are important for many things. They connect you to the road for a smooth ride. They keep you safe as you move through all the bumps and dips on the road. They control performance and ensure both you and your car remain safe.
Yet because your car’s tires are out in the open, subject to all the perils you meet each day, they are also one of the most susceptible components of your vehicle to potential risks. If a tire goes flat, it can put you at risk. If it isn’t inflated properly, it can decrease the lifespan of your tire.
Your car’s tires are an important part of your vehicle’s overall performance. If you want to keep it safe and ensure a long lifespan, there are a few things you can do.
Tire maintenance – What you can do to make your tires last longer
How much do you know about tire structure and how long they will last? Not all tires are the same. Different makes and models use unique characteristics that will help determine longevity and how well they perform under normal driving conditions.
Many assume tires are made from rubber, but that is only partially true. As many as two hundred different materials are combined to create modern day tires built for comfort, performance, efficiency, flexibility, reliability, and safety.
Tires are not sold based on how much time they will last. Instead, it’s based on distance traveled. However, if you rarely drive your vehicle, and it sits for extended periods, your tires can still wear down.
You’ll find different types, including all-season, all-terrain, and winter tires. All-seasons have a longer lifespan and will last as many as 70,000 miles. All-terrain are more performance-based, and are rated closer to 40,000 miles. Winter tires are made specifically for the winter season. If you leave them on year-round, you’ll reduce their lifespan. Otherwise you can expect up to six winter seasons of wear.
No matter how well cared for your tires are, they will wear down over time. If you want to make your tires last longer, maintenance is key. Here’s what you can do to ensure they last the entire rated service life.
Check tire pressure
Most modern day vehicles will have an internal tire pressure check built into your computer system. It will alert you through dashboard lights when tire pressure moves beyond the acceptable range. Pay attention to this gauge, as over or underinflation can cause tire damage.
An underinflated tire will allow the sidewalls to flex more than they were designed for as you corner and brake throughout your drive. That leaves the tread not as tight, meaning it won’t stay well connected with the road, creating less stability and traction. You’ll have a slower response both in the way you steer and brake.
An overinflated tire means the center of the tread will bear more of the load. This will ultimately wear the inner tread out faster than the outside edges. It creates less contact with the road, meaning you’ll have more trouble steering and braking.
You can check tire specifications for your vehicle inside your owner’s manual. You can also find it on a label typically attached on the frame inside one of the doors. Be sure to follow these guidelines, as your tires may change as temperatures change quickly here along the Front Range.
No matter what type of tires you have on your vehicle, each of the four tires will wear separately based on how they connect with the road. This is especially true if you drive a four-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive vehicle where two tires will see more wear than the other two.
To counter this process, it’s a good idea to rotate the tires every 6,000 miles or so to ensure even wear. You can schedule this with your regular oil changes; it’s an easy way to remember how often to perform this task.
Maintain proper balance and alignment
Tires can wear differently for many reasons. There can be slight imperfections in tread wear. Tires or wheels may be slightly heavier in some spots.
Over time, this impacts everything about the way you drive. It increases treadwear in certain spots. It can impact fuel economy. It can increase vibration running from your wheels through the steering wheel, making it more difficult to control. This only worsens as you pick up speed.
To ensure your tires stay in balance, be sure to have it checked periodically. You can do so when you get your tires rotated, or when you hit a particularly jarring bump in the road. Most manufacturers recommend having tires balanced and aligned every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.
Monitor your tread wear
Instead of relying solely on a mechanic for tire safety, you can monitor your tread wear yourself to ensure a long lifespan. Plus, it’s easy to do.
Walk around and perform a visual check of all four tires. Look for evidence of uneven wear, cupping, damage, or distortion. If something doesn’t look right, it’s better to check it out. The faster you identify a problem, the quicker you can get it repaired, and the less it will impact the tire’s service life.
You can also perform the penny test. Place a penny into the tread groove upside down, head first into the tire groove. Then inspect the penny. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, it’s time to replace the tires. If Abe’s head is covered, your tires are fine. You can repeat this in multiple places to ensure you don’t have uneven wear.
Adjust your driving style
If you want to keep every part of your vehicle in good condition, while achieving the longest lifespan possible, become a better driver.
Aggressive driving will impact more than just your tires. It affects your braking system, and can impact your fuel economy. It puts you at greater risk for accidents and injury.
It may be fun seeing how fast you can pick up speed, but doing so regularly in urban driving will only increase maintenance items on your vehicle.