Regular maintenance can increase the life of your vehicle. While the mechanical parts of a vehicle require more frequent checkups other parts need a slight nudge here and there. Among these low maintenance, parts are your car’s tires. The wheels on the bus go round and round but in order to make them go round for long, you need to take special care of them.
Just a few checkups every weekend can enhance the life of your vehicle’s tires. How? Let’s take a look at some necessary tests you should undertake to check the integrity of your tires.
Check Tire Pressure
Tires lose air but not at an alarming rate, unless there is a puncture. Generally, a tire loses one pound per square inch of air every month. If the weather is cold, air leaks out faster. You should not wait for the mechanic to check the tire pressure on your vehicle. Instead, you should do this exercise yourself since it hardly takes five minutes of your time.
All you have to do is to take your car to a tire shop to check the air pressure. There is another way but that requires spending some money. If you are not scared to spend some bucks you should order an air pressure monitor. This instrument will allow you to check the air pressure in your tires without needing to take a trip to the mechanic.
Checking tire pressure is extremely important since many lives depend on it. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the leading cause of road accidents is under-inflated tires. Low air pressure in the tires makes it difficult for you to grip the road and it increases friction between the tires and the road. Hence, the engine works harder and you lose fuel efficiency.
Before you go on to fill the air in your tires, always check the manufacturer’s recommended psi. Going with the manufacturer’s recommendation would enhance the life of your tires and save you from changing your tires too soon.
Make Tire Inspection Your Habit
Tires are made of rubber, which makes them vulnerable to many materials and obstacles. The biggest enemy of rubber is friction and that is something you cannot control. Friction reduces the life of a tire so to delay the imminent your responsibility is to perform regular inspection of your tires.
Tires are also susceptible to other kinds of damage. This includes punctures, bulges, and cracks. Make sure there is nothing stuck to the tires especially an object that is sharp. Moreover, keep an eye out for any irregular bulges that can materialize after you hit a pothole. Any swelling on the tire is a bad sign and that could lead to accidents so you should get it fixed as soon as possible.
Rotate the Tires
Perhaps the best thing you can do to enhance the life of your car’s tires is to rotate them weekly or monthly. But tires rotate by themselves! That’s how car’s move, right? Well, here rotation has a slightly different meaning. Rotation here means changing the location of a tire so, for example, a tire which was in the front of the car is shifted to the back. This regular position change reduces wear on a tire.
Maybe you drive a certain way which puts stress on a particular tire. Rotation will make sure that every tire wears out equally and you don’t develop the need to change your old tires for new ones more frequently. As a rule of thumb, you should rotate your tires every 6,000 km.
That’s just about the time when you make an oil change. So, make it your habit to rotate your car’s tires or ask your mechanic to help you out. If you are willing to rotate tires by yourself then make sure you are using a safe and reliable wheel jack. A hydraulic wheel jack is preferable since it does not require much effort to operate. A manual jack, on the other hand, requires a lot of force and concentration.
Properly Align the Wheels
The wheels on your car are not naturally straight. Since they are joined with mechanical equipment like axles and tie-rods, tires need to be properly aligned to sit straight on the road. Tire alignment puts more of the rubber and tread pattern on the road allowing for better grip and acceleration.
If the wheels are not properly aligned, not only will you feel extreme vibration in your car at high speeds but you will also experience uneven tire wear. Fortunately, it is easy to spot a misaligned tire. If you sit in front of the car and crouch, you will be able to tell if a tire is misaligned.
If that trick doesn’t work you can visually see the wear on your tire. A misaligned tire will have more wear on one side and less wear on the other. As soon as you spot such irregularity in your tires you should book an appointment with your mechanic and get a wheel alignment done at the earliest. The more you delay the more you would have to suffer in terms of tire wear.
Avoid Potholes and Bumps
Any obstacle on the road is dangerous for your car’s tires. You should avoid obstacles as much as you can since that could mean your tires last longer. Tires are made of rubber so they absorb the force of an impact but if the force is strong enough the tires can get damaged.
You might experience swelling in a tire after you hit a pothole or a scar. Although this swelling is harmless at first, it can grow to become a real threat for your tire’s life. Fortunately, such damage is easily repairable. You can contact a certified mechanic to help you out. Only the mechanic can tell you if the damage has gone beyond repair or if it is recoverable.
Use Nitrogen Instead of Air
Air is volatile when faced with changing temperatures and it leaks out easily through the rubber. Nitrogen, on the other hand, has special properties which allow it to stay inside the tire and keep it inflated for long. If you fill your tires with nitrogen gas instead of air you will see that your tires stay inflated for long, the tire pressure hardly changes, and the tire stays healthy for a long time.
However, the biggest issue with nitrogen gas is that it is not available easily. Not every tire shop will have a cylinder of nitrogen gas lying by to fill your tires. You would have to go to a dedicated tire shop and pay an extra amount of money to satisfy your tire’s nitrogen needs.
Reduce Top Speed
Driving fast constantly can have an adverse effect on a car’s tires. At high speeds, the tires experience more friction from the surface and they heat up considerably. We know from basic science that when rubber heats up it starts to melt.
So, if you are driving fast on a more frequent basis, you are reducing the life of your tires by almost 20 percent. In a study conducted by tire manufacturer Good Year, increasing top speed from 55 mph to 75 mph can reduce the tire’s life by 20 percent.
So, if a particular tire was touted to have a life of 220,000 miles if it is driven at 55 mph, it will have a life of 200,000 miles if driven at 75 mph. The trend shows that the faster you go the more tires wear out. Furthermore, you use up more fuel when driving fast, so it is better if you drive on a moderate speed to save not only fuel but also your tires.
Look For the Signs
Most drivers don’t realize their vehicle’s tires are about to wear out. It is your responsibility as a driver to know everything about your car. An oblivious driver is a dangerous driver who might cause accidents and loss of life.
When a tire’s tread wears off, the vehicle starts losing grip on the road; it starts swerving from here to there and becomes a threat to other vehicles on the road. As soon as you feel the sensation of losing grip, stop and check the state of your tires. Often times, drivers forget about checking their tires and then it becomes too late to prevent damage.
If you do not have the knowledge to check the state of your tires, then visit your mechanic and learn the correct way to carry out a visual inspection. On the contrary, you can take the help of the internet and look at some of the informative videos on there.
The tires of a car are like its feet. They are a contact point where the entire body of a vehicle meets with the road. If the tires are not kept in good condition your entire vehicle could get damaged. Hence, you should follow the few maintenance tips mentioned here and act on them. You would soon start to see a difference.