Of all of the equipment in any vehicle, some of the most important, in terms of both performance and safety, are the tires. According to a study conducted by the NHTSA and then published by Consumer Reports, vehicles driving on underinflated tires are 25 times more likely to end up in a crash versus vehicles with properly inflated tires and the figures for worn tires are even worse.
However, if you have had occasion to shop for tires recently then you are more than aware of the fact that they could not exactly be termed as cheap, no matter what kind of vehicle you drive. You really can’t afford to skimp on buying them, as they really are so crucial to your driving safety. However given that they are not inexpensive items, getting more out of the set you have should be something of a priority unless money is no object, something that is hardly the case for most of us.
So how do you do that? Here are a few basic pointers:
Ensure Your Tires are Always Properly Inflated
A great habit to get into is to is at least glancing at your tires once a day, either when you park up at the office in the morning or better still when you head to the gas station to fill up, where there will be air nearby if you need it. A lot of the time you can tell yourself when your tires could use a bit of air, but if you are not sure a hand held tire gauge is not hard to use.
According to Layne Davlin, founder of a PEO company in Georgia, “If you have a newer vehicle it may be equipped with a digital Tire Pressure Monitoring System, which is handy, but you still need to make sure that you know what the optimal tire pressure is for vehicle when that warning light goes off. If you do not have a TPMS your should check all of your tires once a month using a good digital or pencil type pressure gauge.”
Not only will you be helping to ensure the safety of your car by maintaining a constant tire pressure and extend their useful life you can also improve your average gas mileage by up to 3.3%!
Getting an Oil Change? Get Your Tires Balanced and Rotated Too
By getting your tires balanced and rotated every 7,000 – 10,000 miles, which is approximately every other oil change for most of us, you will help increase the lifespan of all four of them as the tires on the front of the vehicle wear faster than those on the back. You will also be helping to reduce vibrations that can damage other ‘working parts’ on your car. Most auto shops offering oil changes offer this service too and many even build it into a ‘package price’ at a very reasonable cost.
Routinely Check the Tread on Every Tire
A tire that is visibly wearing on its outside edge is often a sign that your wheels are no longer properly aligned. Any misalignment will significantly reduce the life of your tires, while also potentially affecting your driving stability, so get into the habit of routinely inspecting each tire for uneven tread wear.
An easy way to check your tread depth is to find a penny – we all have some lying around someplace – and then place it in the tread groove. If you can see all of Abe’s head then tire should be replaced as soon as possible and you should also have your alignment checked when you do put on the new one(s).
Avoid Potholes – Or at Least Go Over Them Slowly
Potholes are certainly a big enemy to tire health. Depending on your tire’s design and pothole’s depth, even hitting a pothole at 20 m.p.h. can cause significant damage to the tire sidewall, which is not something that can be fixed.
If a pothole is unavoidable, it is better to slow down and drive through it than try to swerve away from it at the last second, as doing the latter is nothing short of a driving hazard, both for yourself and other cars on the road around you.