Maintaining car tires tires key to proper performance
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What is connecting your car to the road? When you get ask that question
it doesn't take long to come up with the proper answer. The tires are between
you and the road. But for some reason, people tend to forget that the only part
of their vehicle touching the road is four small patches of rubber we
affectionately call tires. Spending a million dollars on a vehicle but neglecting
tire care basically relegates your tires to the same performance stats as
But your high performance car is not a lawnmower you argue. Ok, we believe you.
Keeping your tires properly inflated to the manufacture's recommended specs is the
key to preventing any future confusion as to whether or not you're driving a lawnmower.
Grab your pressure gauge and check your tire's inflation at least once a month.
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If every month you have to add more than a few psi to a tire, then there is an
underlying problem. There could be a tire/wheel assembly problem. It's wise to contact
a tire professional immediately if this is suspected. Check the pressure when you tires
are cold before you do ANY driving. Just driving down your driveway causes your pressure
to increase and you'll get an bogus reading. A digital gauge gives a far more precise
reading than a conventional gauge.
The Accutire MS-4710 features a large LCD readout, and a ruggedly designed plastic
metallic body with rubberized sure grip handle. It measures from 5 to 99 psi in 1/2-pound
increments, auto on/off, permanent lifetime lithium battery, plus a 5 year warranty. The
4710 has an added advantage with a longer reach neck for those hard to reach valve stems.
It's perfect for deep offset wheels.
Here are some visual cues to gauge whether or not you have an inflation problem:
Wear on Both Edges: UNDER INFLATION
A tire that has both side edges worn down may be under inflated.
Too little pressure is a tire's worst fate as it reduces its life. The abnormal wear
patterns can also cause handling anomalies which could result in an accident. This
excessive wear generates excessive heat which reduces the tire's overall durability - or
worse, a flat. Your fuel economy is also affected by the increase of rolling resistance
(under inflated tires makes your vehicle expend more energy). Regularly check for proper
inflation. Shoulder wear on a tire often is caused by misalignment.
Wear in the Center: OVER INFLATION
When you eat too much you get fat in the middle. The same goes for your tires.
When a tire has too much air in it - it is over inflated. The center of the tire
balloons out and bears the load of the car causing the center to wear out faster
than the outer edges. Over inflation is dangerous because under rough terrain or
under heavy loads, the added stress can cause the tire to "blowout." Have your
alignment looked at; perform any recommended necessary services.
Maintaining proper inflation levels is only one part of tire maintenance. Here are
some other areas to pay attention to ensure your tires, and vehicle, reach their
"A penny earned is a penny saved," or something like that. A penny is still useful
these days. They are great for checking your tire's tread depth. Insert a penny into
a tread slot with Lincoln upside-down and facing you. If you can see the top of
Lincoln's head when you look level with the tire it is time to replace it. Also most
passenger, light truck, and medium commercial tires have tread wear indicators molded
into the tread. It is time to replace a tire when the indicator becomes visible.
Cups or Dips in the tread: WORN PARTS
Cupping (also called dipping or scalloping) is most common on front tires, though
rear tires can also cup depending on the rear suspension setup. The steering components
may be worn out or the wheels are out of balance if you notice that any of your tires
Sawtooth edges: MISALIGNMENT
Do the edges of your tires tread look like a saw was taken to them? Literally this
is what is happening to them. The road is chewing, sawing, at your tires and it won't
be long before the tire is completely destroyed. The solution is a toe-in or toe-out
You're driving down the road and your steering wheel is bouncing around
in unison with the beat blaring from your car's speakers. Soon comes the headache as
the vibration starts working its way from your hands into the back of your skull. If
this describes a typical day behind the wheel for you, then its time to get your car
balanced. Unbalanced tires cause vibration, which can fatigue the driver, and cause
premature tire wear. It also places a lot of unnecessary stress on your vehicle's
suspension. Balance your tires when you have a new tire mounted on your rim, or after
you have had a repair on some part of the wheel. Bring your car into the shop right
when your car begins to vibrate or shimmy.
When you turn the steering wheel right and your car wanders left it would be a
pretty good indication your car needs an alignment service. A poorly aligned vehicle
will suffer from many different ailments. The worst being the wear it places on your
tires. A vehicle is properly aligned when there are no abnormal signs of treadwear and
all suspension and steering components are functioning within recommended guidelines.
Tire rotation can easily be performed in your own garage. No need to go to the repair
shop, unless you are not one to do your own repairs. Refer to your
owner's manual on their recommendations. Roll-out your floor jack and do it yourself. Remember
to initially loosen your lugnuts before you jack up your vehicle. Use jack stands for
safety. Your vehicle's owner's manual specifies the proper rotation pattern, which tire is
changed with which, and recommends the schedule for performing it. Sometimes there is no
schedule specified. It doesn't mean that that a rotation should never be performed. If there
is clear information in your manual, a good rule of thumb to follow is to rotate them every
6,000 to 8,000 miles. Don't forget to torque your lugnuts to specifications.
Proper tread depth is essential for proper tire performance. If you notice a loss or
change in wet traction, you may not have enough tread left on your tires. Replace a tire
once the tread depth reaches 1/16th of an inch.