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Essential Vehicle Maintenance: Tires

If you want to upkeep anything in your vehicle, the objects that keep your car rolling, and off the ground, should be at the top of that list. Tires are often overlooked because a car with bald tires can still drive, and replacing all four tires can be expensive. When your fuel pump or fuel pump assembly goes out, you have no choice whether or not you want to replace it because your car will not drive - bald tires can get you down the street and back, and the dangers always occur when it's too late. Nevertheless, keeping track of the condition of your tires, and keeping them properly inflated, can mean literally life or death for the people in the vehicle. Here are a few tips to make sure your tires will keep you and your passengers safe on the road.

The main cause of tire failure (when your tire goes flat or blows out) is the friction caused from moving contact with the road. This causes the tread on the tires to wear away. When the tread becomes too shallow, the tire is worn out and should be replaced. Bald tires give you little traction on the road, especially when the road is wet or icy. This means the difference in you maintaining control of your vehicle, and not maintaining control, is dependent on proper tread on your tires. One trick to check if you have proper tire tread is to place a penny, with Lincoln’s head down, between the tread of your tires. If Lincoln’s head isn’t completely covered by the treads on your tires, they need to be replaced.

Underinflation is very detrimental to your tires, and your fuel economy. Not having enough tire pressure causes excessive wear on the tires, and gives you less control of your vehicle on paved roads. You should check your tire pressure regularly. To check your tire pressure, make sure your tires are cool (so when the vehicle has been sitting for awhile.) If you need to go somewhere else to fill up your tires with air, check the tire pressure before you leave and fill up appropriately. You can find out the appropriate tire pressure for your vehicle by looking in your owner’s manual, the driver’s side door panel, the glove box door, or the fuel door. Remove the cap from the valve on one tire. Firmly press the tire guage onto the valve. Add air to achieve the recommended tire pressure. If you overfill a tire, release air by pushing on the metal stem in the center of the valve with a fingernail or the tip of a pen. Recheck the tire pressure, and then replace the valve cap. Repeat for your other tires, including the spare.

Another important factor in maintaining your tires is your vehicles alignment. When you are driving, does your car pull to one side, or shake? A bad jolt from hitting a curb or pothole can throw off your alignment. Have a tire dealer check your alignment regularly to make sure your vehicle is aligned properly. If the alignment is off it will cause your tire to wear irregularly, which can lead to tire blowouts. You should also rotate your tires periodically, typically every 5,000 miles. Naturally your front and back, left and right tires wear differently on the road. By rotating your tires from front to back, left to right, you can ensure your tires wear evenly and lengthen the life of your tires.

I find inspecting the tires while filling up at the gas station is convenient. While the vehicle is filling up, you can check your tires for wear, visually check for proper inflation, and inspect for any debris that is caught in your tire tread and can damage your tires. This way you will always be on top of properly maintaining your tires.

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