It’s been a few decades since the time when most folks knew one or two things about auto maintenance. It’s true: these days many people are likely to know the finer points of what’s under their laptop’s hood as opposed to what’s under the hood of their automobile. And while it’s good to be technically proficient in modern society, there’s something to be said for knowing one’s way around a car, if even in a limited capacity. After all, some basic car knowledge might just save a bit of cash on auto maintenance down the line. Focusing for the moment on tires, here are some easy tips and secrets anyone can take to heart to maximize tire care.
Consider tire care products
And there are a number on the market, many available from auto parts stores such as Firestone or Mavis Tire. These products include tire dressing, which is a water or solvent-based formula containing UV filters that protect tires from the sun, among other things. There are also rubber cleaners, which can be a lifesaver when it comes to removing the dirt and grime that accumulates quickly on car tires. Rubber prep is good at moving pollutants, such as wax, grease or oil, which are known to get under the surface of the tire.
Pay attention to feeling and sounds
Low humming, the car pulling left or right on the highway, different vibrations at various speeds—these are often all signs that the tire is wearing out and might even be primed for a blowout. Best to get them looked at immediately.
Check tread depth
This is crucial to knowing when tires need to be replaced. Experts recommend using a tread gauge, but eyeballing the tire can yield some good info, too. If the center tread is more worn than the sides, it’s a good bet the tire is overinflated; if the outside is more worn, the tire is underinflated. On average, a new tire will start at 10/32” and it is regarded as done when the tread has worn down to 2/32”.
Rotate tires regularly
Experts recommend waiting no longer than 6,000 miles before rotating the tires. (Many folks do theirs every 4,000 miles.) This particularly applies to front-wheel drive cars, as the front tires wear out quicker than the rear. Failing to regularly equalize the rotations means the car owner will be buying two new tires more frequently than he or she needs to.
Those who are serious about saving money will want to perform this task regularly. Experts recommend biting the bullet and dropping the 20 bucks or so on a decent tire pressure gauge, which, again, can be found at most auto parts stores. The proper way to check the pressure is to do so cold, meaning after the car has been parked for at least a few hours. Some people look at the tire sidewall to find pressure info, but this is a mistake. The proper pressure will be displayed on the vehicle’s interior door or doorjamb. Many newer cars even have pressure-sensing systems. Maintaining the correct pressure can improve fuel economy by 10%. Experts recommend checking this pressure once a month.
By adhering to these tips and secrets, regular drivers can maximize their tire life and save money in the long run.