Nothing affects your car’s performance and safety like the quality of your tires. While other parts may make your vehicle more fun or comfortable, your car ultimately depends on four small spots where the rubber touches the pavement.
Your tires may make a bigger difference than you think, too. Good, well-maintained tires will result in a better ride, improved handling, predictable handling in wet or dry conditions, and most importantly, the safety of you and your passengers.
Keeping your tires in good condition isn’t difficult, but it does take some regular attention. Here are five things to look for to keep your car’s tires in top shape.
- INSPECTION: Give your tires a visual inspection at least once a month. You’ll want to check the tread depth to be sure it meets your state’s requirements and the proper tolerances for your vehicle. A lack of tread can be downright dangerous because it reduces traction. Also check for punctures and cracks in the sidewall.
- PRESSURE: Also once a month, you should check your tire pressure to make sure it is set at the correct level for your vehicle. Pressure that is too low or two high can increase wear on your tires, hurt your gas mileage and be unsafe to drive. Make sure you check your spare tire’s pressure, too, just in case you’ll need it.
- ROTATE: Every 6,000 miles you should have your car’s tires rotated. This will help ensure they wear more evenly, which extends their life and keeps the traction level more consistent over time. If you have to replace your tires, it is highly recommended to replace them all at the same time for safety reasons. Replacing only two tires can lead to different front-to-rear grip levels, which can make your car spin and be difficult to control in emergencies.
- ALIGNMENT: Check your vehicle’s service manuals to see how often it will need a suspension alignment. If you find your tires are wearing unevenly or too quickly, that could be a sign that you need an alignment right away. It’s a good idea to have your car’s alignment checked annually.
- BALANCE: Finally, every time you have your tires rotated, you should also have them balanced. Extremely unbalanced tires can sometimes be felt through the steering wheel, and even minor balance problems can cause premature wear to your shocks and struts. Ultimately, keeping your tires balanced will make your car last longer and drive more comfortably.