By Madeline Klein on January 25, 2019.
Cars are expensive. There’s no denying it. Buying a car is expensive. Registering and getting your title for a car is expensive. Taxes on a car are expensive. And keeping up on car maintenance is especially expensive.
We’re right there with you. There’s nothing worse than taking your car in for a simple oil change and then having to spend $500 on other issues the mechanic found.
To avoid those last-minute costs, upkeep on your car should be your best friend. And a key to car maintenance is tires. They’re something you don’t usually think about, what with them being at the very bottom of your car and all. But tire maintenance is vital to a healthy car. Take good care of your tires, and fingers crossed that your next trip to the mechanic won’t be so bad.
1. Check tire pressure monthly
While some wait on their mechanic to check their tire pressure at oil changes and maintenance visits, that really isn’t enough. Tires lose pressure every day from normal wear, and can even lose about one pound per square inch (psi) of air per month.
Check your tire pressure every month to make sure you have the right psi for your car’s make and model. You can find that info in your manual, or sometimes on the inside of your driver-side door.
2. Rotate tires regularly
Rotation helps ensure your tires wear at a similar rate. It’ll help you get the most life out of your tires. And considering how expensive tires can be, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want as much time out of them as possible.
Most recommend you rotate tires every 5,000 - 7,500 miles. And check in with the people you buy your tires from. Sometimes they’ll rotate your tires for free after a certain number of miles.
3. Alignment is key
Tire alignments are a bit misleading. It’s not about aligning your tires but actually refers to an adjustment for the suspension of a car. Basically, it adjusts the angles of your tires, which can impact how they touch the ground. Bad alignment is another thing that can make your tires wear unevenly, causing you to need new tires earlier than you’d like. You’ll know you need an alignment if:
- Your tread wear is uneven
- Your car is pulling to the left or right
- Your steering wheel isn’t centered when you’re driving straight
- Your steering wheel is vibrating
4. Give them a look before a big trip
Before you hit the road, add “checking tires” to your to-do list. It’s just as important as packing those road trip snacks or loading up your road trip podcast.
You should look for cracks or any items that may have punctured them. It’s better to inspect before you hit the road, rather than needing to pull over on a busy highway.
5. Make sure you’ve got a spare
Right after you use a spare, get in the habit of getting a new one to replace it immediately. It’s easy to forget that you’ve used it, and the next time you run over a nail or blowout your tire you’ll be out of luck. And before you hit the road for any big trip, double check that spare is safe and sound in your trunk.
6. Use the penny trick for tread
If your tires are looking a little worn for wear, it may be time to either rotate them or replace them completely. Lucky for you, you don’t have to be a tire connoisseur to know if you’re tread is wearing low.
Grab a penny and turn it upside down, so Abraham Lincoln’s head is between the tread. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, then it’s definitely time for new tires.
7. Don’t put off buying new tires
It’s tempting to run those babies into the ground, but it’s really not a good idea. Tires are vital to car safety and can play a big role in your traction on snowy or rainy roads. If you discover your tread depth is low based on the penny trick, it’s time to splurge for new tires.
Happy tires, happy life
Okay, maybe not necessarily "happy life,” but happy tires will definitely keep your car happy and help keep you safer on the road. Don’t skimp when it comes to tires and you’ll be able to worry a little less the next time you’re on the road during a rainy day or snow storm.