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Tire Safety and Maintenance Tips

Tires: Trusty Allies or Killers on the Loose?

I love my car but often don’t give much thought to the individual parts, like tires, unless something is wrong. Recently though I watched the spoofy horror movie Rubber, about, yes really, a killer tire, and it got me thinking about the rubber that gets me where I need to go and how I take care of it. While in reality I’m not overly concerned about my tires coming after me for taking them over one too many potholes, it seems in everyone’s best interest to keep his or her tires in the best shape possible for safety purposes and maintenance, as a lot can go wrong if you don’t take care of them. Here are some simple things you can do to ensure maximum tire safety and longevity.

Maintain Proper Pressure – This is one of the most important things for healthy and happy tires. Check your car manual to see what the manufacture recommends. Note that the number on the tire itself is the maximum pressure the tire can handle and not the pressure at which you should keep the tire. Too little tire pressure causes unnecessary wear and lower fuel economy and too much pressure causes strain on the suspension. Get in the habit of checking the pressure once a month when the tires are cold, meaning they haven’t been driven on for a couple of hours or for more than a mile. You may want to purchase a reliable pressure gauge, as the ones supplied at service stations are often broken or inaccurate. Add or release air until the ideal number is met.

Regular Rotation – Tires wear differently depending on location. They should be rotated every 5,000 to 7,000 miles to ensure even wear. This is not only safer but also allows them to last longer. You may want to get in the habit of rotating your tires every time you have an oil change.

Check the Tread – Tire tread ensures that your car does not slip-slid across the road, especially in ice and rain. That’s why it’s crucial that you’re not driving with too thin of a tread. If the tread is 1/16th of an inch or less the tires need replacement. Most tires have tread indicators you can check, or you can place a penny upside in the tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head you’ll need a new set of tires. Uneven wear may be a sign that the alignment is off.

Alignment and Balance – Properly aligned tires follow a straight line to the frame of the car. Daily driving and potholes can shift the tires out of place. Properly balanced tires are evenly weighted on the car so that there are no heavy spots and the tires can spin freely. If you notice your car shimmying or vibrating it may be a sign the tire balance and/or alignment are off. It’s best to have a qualified mechanic take a look. Check your car manual to see how often you should have your tires balanced and aligned.

Repair or Replace – If the hole in the tire is located in the tread and small enough, a mechanic or tire service place can likely fix the tire by removing it from the wheel and plugging and patching it. Punctures that are large or on the tire sidewall mean the tire will need to be replaced. Failure to repair or replace damaged tires can lead to more serious problems, as well as unsafe driving conditions.

Tire maintenance is easy to do and ensures maximum safety and driving comfort. You’ll also save money by helping your tires to last longer, which is way worth the small inconvenience. And when doing your tire maintenance don’t forget about the spare – a flat one is useless! Happy and Safe Driving from!

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