How to Maintain Your Tires

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 22,856
    Auto Repair Expert John Neilsen discusses how to maintain your tires.

    John Nielsen: Hi! I am John Nielson with AAA. And today we are here talking about buying and maintaining tires. In this segment, we are going to talk specifically about maintaining your tire. What you need to know about keeping your tire in good shape, getting maximum performance, maximum life, and protecting your investment. The first thing we should talk about is tire pressure. Jeeping your tires properly inflated is critical for maintaining the life of the tire, to maximizing its fuel economy, and perhaps most importantly to keeping you and the people riding in your car safe.

    Now the tire has a pressure listed on the sidewall, but quite honestly that's not the place that you want to check to see how to inflate your tires. You want to look in your owner's manual or you want to look inside the door jamb at the driver's door, there will be a little placard that says inflate the tires to a certain pressure.

    Interestingly, tires in the front may have a different inflation pressure than tires in the rear. We want to make sure that we inflate the tire to the proper pressure when the tires are cold, that means before we drive it in the morning. As you drive your car, the tires will start to warm up and actually increase the pressure inside the tire as much as 2-3 pounds. So the best thing to do is to check your tire pressure before you leave in the morning. Remove the valve stem cap, use your tire pressure gauge, check the pressure and record it. If the tires are 2 pounds underinflated, when you go to fill up your tires add 2 pounds. You will notice that instead of being at 30 pounds, the tire may now be at 32 or 33. Add 2 pounds on top of that to make sure that you are at the right pressure, and then check it again the next morning.

    The next step that we want to do in maintaining our tires is to make sure that we properly rotate them. Now tire rotation is best on every six months or 6,000 miles, this is something you can do at home. But really it's a great time to take it to a shop, have them rotate your tires, and check your breaks and check other components on the car to make sure that all the safety pieces are in good shape, that it is not time to perform some other maintenance on your vehicle.

    Another area of maintenance on your tire would tire alignment. Now alignment is something that we should be doing at least once a year. But in many areas of the country where roads are damaged by frost and we have potholes, it maybe necessary to align your car more than once a year. If you find your car pulling to the left or the right or having a shimmy or a shake, it's a great time to have it inspected for alignment and tire balance.

    Now as we are maintaining our tires, we can take a look at the tire itself and tell a lot about what's going on. As you can see in this graphic, tires will wear differently depending on conditions that exist on the vehicle. The tire labeled number one wears on the inside of the tire and would indicate a problem with alignment. Tire number two wears on the inside and outside of the tire, would indicate problems with tire inflation. Tire six would indicate a shifted belt or damaged tire. Eight demonstrates the wear bars that are built into every tire that actually shows you when it's wearing out. And finally, we have tire appearance. Well, not critical to tire safety, it is something that we are concerned about to keep our vehicle looking good, and simply washing the tire with soap and water at the same time removing any break dust from the wheels. And once the tire is clean, simply finish it with the product that limits UV damage to the outside of your tire.

    In the next segment, we will talk about changing a flat tire.

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