When Was Last Time You Took A Good Look At Your Tires?
Winter just began. How are your tires holding up?
Wear and tear is part of a tire’s life, but that doesn’t mean the lifespan must be short-lived.
Practicing proper tire care helps improve tread life and save fuel, no matter the season.
“Cracks, bulges, cuts and abrasions are all warning signs of a tire’s condition,” said Dan Zielinski of the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association. “Even tires that are several years old can perform admirably if properly maintained. Age isn’t necessarily the problem for tires, it’s their condition.”
The onset of cold weather often leads to underinflation, Zielinski said. Effects may take a little while to show up but eventually you may see uneven wear across the tread.
“You should perform a visual inspection every month to identify any wear problems,” said Zielinski. “Inspect tires for cuts, scrapes and odd wear patterns.”
Tire inflation and fuel economy are closely related. According to Zielinski, drivers lose 10 percent in fuel economy for every five to seven pounds reduction in air pressure.
How can drivers get the most out of their tires? Zielinski had the following suggestions:
- Check tire inflation monthly to keep tires from riding on the sidewall.
- Check for cracks, bulges and uneven tire wear.
- Rotate tires regularly. This helps prevent uneven wear. Rotation method varies as to vehicle you drive and tire.
- Ask for plugs and patches when fixing a flat, not just plugs. Plugs may come loose and deflate the tire.
- Check for tire damage anytime your vehicle hits a pothole, curb or gutter.
- Replace but do not fix tires with sidewall damage such as nail holes.
- Have you inspected your spare tire recently? A survey by the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association found that more than 70 percent of drivers never check on the condition of their spare tire.
- An improperly balanced tire leads to abnormal tire wear and can cause the steering wheel to vibrate as the vehicle accelerates to freeway speed.
“Tires are engineered to handle a lot of stress as long as they are maintained properly,” Zielinski said. “Once the integrity of components is damaged, tires ultimately will come apart.”