How do I take care of my new tires?
You may have purchased new tires because you needed to replace worn out tires or because you wanted to upgrade your existing set. You may have chosen your new tires because of the design of the tire, the performance of the tire, the brand name, or possibly just because they were cost effective. No matter what the reason may be, a set of new tires are an investment in your vehicle - we all want to get the most out of our tires. Knowing how to care for your tires can help you to get the most time and mileage out of them.
Maintaining your tires is the most important part of tire longevity. Following the manufacturer’s specifications on service intervals and tire pressure will keep your tires in the best shape. Keeping tire pressure at the right level is a key part of this maintenance. Most cars are now equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems that can assist you in checking the tire pressure from the inside of the vehicle on a daily basis.
Whether the vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system or not, you should be checking your tire pressure with a manual tire pressure gauge at least once every two weeks. It is important that you check the tire pressure when they are cold and fill them to manufacturer’s specifications, which you will find on the sticker on the driver side door jamb. It is also important to rotate your tires at regular intervals. If your vehicle manual does not specify a service interval for tire rotations you should have this done at every oil change. Having the tires balanced every six months is also important as it assists in tire wear and minimizes tire vibrations.
Inspecting your tires regularly will help you to identify any issues before they become problems. Start by checking the tire tread for any irregular wear. If you notice that the tires have more wear on the inside than on the outside, or vice versa, then you may have some worn out suspension or steering parts, or you may need a wheel alignment. If you find that the tires are wearing unevenly you should get the suspension and steering inspected and the alignment checked. If you notice and high and low spots on the tread, or flat spots, this is known as cupping. Cupping on the tire tread is typically the result of worn out shocks or struts. If this type of wear is noticed then those should be replaced to prevent the tires from wearing prematurely.
When inspecting the tires you should also inspect the tread for any sort of foreign objects. If there are any rocks or other materials stuck in the tread then they should be removed. Typically, this can be done by prying them out with a small screwdriver. Allowing anything to remain between the tread can cause damage to the tire and can even puncture it over time. If anything has punctured the tire, such as a nail, it should be professionally repaired from the inside of the tire.
Taking care of your tires also includes keeping them clean. Using a cleaner that is made for tires will assist in removing any road grime and ozone from the tire that will cause the tire to rot out and crack over time. If the tires have white walls or white lettering then that needs to be cleaned also. There are special white wall cleaners available at most auto parts stores that contain bleach that will keep the white areas in great shape for a long period of time. Regularly cleaning your tires will keep the rubber from deteriorating and will keep them looking new for a long period of time.
If your car is a classic, or if it simply sits for long period of time, storing the vehicle properly will keep the tires in good shape. If the vehicle sits outside the tires should remain covered or parked in an area that keeps the sun exposure on the tires to a minimum. Long exposure to the UV rays from the sun will deteriorate the tire and cause it to fail prematurely. Long periods of storage can also cause flat spots on the tires where the car sits. If the vehicle is not moved regularly then it should be lifted and put on jack stands to keep the pressure off of the tires.
Following some simple steps and being diligent in your tire maintenance will assist you in assuring that your tires will last for a long period of time. Doing this, as well as cleaning your tires properly, will keep them looking good and will assure that you can identify problems well before they cannot be corrected.
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