Shoes, beds, and tires - take care of the things that separate you from the ground. Your tires are the only thing between your entire vehicle and the road you’re driving on - they carry your car through hot days and cold, through rain, slush, even snow. They are also one of the most expensive components on your vehicle that you will need to regularly replace. These are all great reasons to put some extra effort into maintaining your tires to ensure that they keep you safe, and you can get the maximum life out of them.
Here are six tips for keeping your tires in great shape:
1. Rotation, rotation, rotation
The first one's a simple one; your tires should be rotated regularly from front to back (keep the tires on the same side of the vehicle). Recommendations vary by vehicle, but the traditional advice is once every 10,000km. This could be every or every other oil change (depending on your vehicle), or ask your technician if it’s necessary to rotate them when you swap between winter and all-season tires.
Should the best tires be on the front or rear? Michelin recommends that the best tires should be on the rear in all situations. This is to prevent oversteer, where the rear wheels can slip out in the direction of the turn, causing a loss of control. By having the best tires on the rear of the vehicle, the axle that you cannot steer has the best chance of retaining grip while turning in inclement conditions.
2. Keep your tires at the correct pressure
Keeping your tires at the correct pressure (as directed by the manufacturer - the tire pressure placard on the inside of the driver’s side door jamb can tell you the correct tire pressure for your vehicle) can make sure driving is safe, and the tires last as long as they’re supposed to.
Having your tires under-inflated can cause excess wear on the outside edge, as the centre is not fully inflated. Overinflated tires can cause the opposite - excessive wear in the middle of the tread. Both of these situations are problematic and can cause you to need to replace tires earlier than otherwise. This is in addition to the importance of maintaining the correct tire pressure to keep your vehicle operating safely and ensuring the proper vehicle driving dynamics.
If your vehicle is equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), you may be able to check your tire pressure with your vehicle's heads-up display, and you'll definitely get a warning when one tire has low pressure!
3. Have your car’s alignment checked and adjusted
There are a few alignment angles of your vehicle’s wheels that could change over time from sagging or worn out suspension components, or natural driving over bumps or through potholes. Camber and toe are two alignment angles that can be adjusted by technicians with the help of an alignment measuring system.
Driving with these angles out of manufacturer’s specification can cause premature tire wear as well, just like incorrect tire pressure. We would recommend getting the alignment checked at least once every two years, and having the recommended adjustments made to keep your car travelling straight down the road. Many shops will offer free alignment inspections, to help you uncover issues and get them corrected.
4. Replace tires in pairs (or all four)
If your tires are worn out or one is damaged irreparably, we advise that tires be replaced in pairs, or all four for all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles. The reason for this is mechanical - the drivetrain and differentials operate with the consideration of the tires being of the same circumference. Worn tires have a smaller circumference, from rubber worn off. The added strain on the mechanical components can cause costly damage. For this reason, most AWD vehicles recommend tires be replaced all at the same time, and FWD or RWD vehicles should have their tires replaced in pairs or fours as well.
5. Check your spare tire
This is a tip many may not have thought of - check that your spare tire is at the right tire pressure and you have all the tools you need to replace a flat out there on the road, including your wheel lock key (if your car has wheel locks). There would be nothing worse than not only needing your spare tire because you have a flat, and then finding an unusable spare tire as well.
Don't know how to change a flat tire? Check out our video tutorial for changing a flat!
6. Use winter tires and have them changed at the right time of year
It’s a great idea to use winter tires during the cold and snowy weather for safety reasons; the tire material is softer and the tread patterns are different, increasing grip while temperatures are frigid.
But another benefit to using winter tires is to protect your all-season/summer tires. Slipping and sliding in the snow can wear out your all-season tires and cold temperatures can shorten the life of the harder rubber material. Conversely, running winter tires in the summer can cause the softer material to wear out prematurely. Ideally, you should change your tires when the weather is consistently above/below +7 degrees Celsius; put on your winter tires in the fall when the weather is below 7, and put your all-season tires on when the weather is above 7.
Additionally, try to store your tires in a cool, dry place - the rubber can deteriorate quickly if they are stored outside unprotected. In plastic bags or designated tire totes, in the garage or shed is good, or you can often store with your service provider. Wheel Easy offers at-home tire swaps and tire storage to make everything convenient for you.
We hope that some of these tips can help you get the most out of your tires, and keep you safe out there on the road. As always, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Wheel Easy for advice or convenient, at-home service.