How old are your tires? The rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate over time, regardless of how many miles the tire has been driven or the condition of the tread. An old tire can compromise your car’s drivability and handling characteristics.
If your tires are more than five years old, call Hillside Auto Repair to schedule a professional inspection. For your peace of mind and the safety of your passengers, it may be prudent to replace some or all of your tires.
Here are five tips to help you select the best tires for your vehicle and driving demands, and then get the most out of them.
1. CHOOSE TIRES WITH THE RIGHT STUFF
A dizzying number of tire types, sizes and brands are available nowadays. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start by identifying what’s currently on your car. Then, learn about your options. (Hint: Hillside is ready to help!)
You can find the recommended tire size, speed rating and load index for your vehicle in the glove compartment, on a placard in the doorjamb, on the door to the gas tank and on the tire sidewall.
The speed rating is a letter and denotes maximum sustainable speed. The load index is a number based on the weight that the tire can safely carry. Choose tires with a speed rating and load index at least as high as specifications for your vehicle.
When selecting tires, the most important criteria are braking, handling and resistance to hydroplaning. Secondary factors are tread wear, ride comfort, noise and rolling resistance; treat them as tie-breakers.
Look for the tire identification number that begins with DOT (for the Department of Transportation) on the sidewall of a tire. The last four digits of the number designates the week and year of the tire’s manufacture. For example, 3313 means the tire was made during the 33rd week of 2013.
Never purchase tires that are more than a few years old. Don’t be misled by claims that the tires that have never been used; nothing stops the effect of time on rubber.
Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., compares an aging tire to an old rubber band. "If you take a rubber band that's been sitting around a long time and stretch it, you will start to see cracks in the rubber," says Kane.
2. KEEP YOUR TIRES INFLATED
Proper inflation is essential for tire performance and longevity. Under-inflated tires offer less traction, reduce your car’s responsiveness, sustain uneven tread wear and require replacement prematurely.
In addition, keeping tire pressures at the recommended level can boost fuel efficiency by one mile per gallon.
Make a habit of checking your tire pressure every month. Use a quality air pressure gauge. Don’t try to eyeball it. You can't tell if a tire is under-inflated just by looking at it.
Take your measurements when the tires are cold; first thing in the morning is best.
Keep tires filled to the manufacturer’s specifications. You’ll find this information in the owner’s manual, inside the doorjamb or on the glove compartment door.
And it’s always a good idea to check tire pressures before you embark on a long road trip.
3. INSPECT YOUR TIRES
Get up close and personal with your tires. Turn them out so you can examine all of the tread. Then, give the tires a spin. Look for uneven wear, bulges or cracked sidewalls. Abnormalities may indicate a need for tire maintenance, front-end alignment or replacement.
Tire traction is the key to accelerating, turning and stopping your car, especially on wet surfaces. Replace tires when the tread is worn down to 2/32-inch. You can test this with a coin. Place a penny in the shallowest tread groove with Abraham Lincoln's head pointing down. Check several different places. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it's time for new tires.
If you prefer to be more cautious, replace your tires when the remaining tread is 4/32-inch. Follow the procedure described above, except use a quarter instead of a penny. If you can see the top of George Washington’s head, you’ll want to replace your tires.
4. ROTATE YOUR TIRES
Regular rotation extends the life of your tires. Tires should be rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. If you have a full-size spare, it should be included in the rotation.
During the rotation process, each tire and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position in a special crisscross pattern. Due to the demands of steering and engine weight, front tires wear out more quickly than rear tires. Rotation helps your tires to wear more evenly and last longer.
Tires also need to be balanced when they’re rotated. Tire balancing requires specialized equipment and should only be performed by a qualified technician.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO THE ALIGNMENT
Alignment refers to the adjustment of a the front and rear suspension parts to ensure that your vehicle handles correctly. A car that’s out of alignment may pull to the left or right when you’re driving.
Proper alignment also helps to increase the life and performance of your tires.
An alignment can be done in conjunction with a tire rotation.
OTHER TIRE SERVICES
- Tire Sales
- Tire Installations
- Tire Rotation
- Tire Balancing
- Tire Replacement
- Wheel Alignment
- Tire Air Pressure Checks
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Repair & Service
Call us or request an appointment online for your car's tire service or replacement.
Work long hours? Ask us about our before and after hours drop-off and pick-up.