Tire Maintenance 101: Taking Care of Your Tires
Tires, like any car component, need proper care to perform and last as designed. Your tires are especially vulnerable to wear and tear because they are the only part of your vehicle that is in contact with the road.
The good news? Proper tire maintenance is quite simple. Make sure you check these items off your tire care to-do list to maximize their lifespan.
1. Tire Rotation
Regularly rotating your tires is an important part of tire maintenance. During rotation, technicians remove each wheel and place it in a different location on the vehicle to ensure even tire tread wear.
It’s important to follow the tire rotation schedule in your owner’s manual. Most vehicles should get a tire rotation every 5,000–7,000 miles or every other oil change.
An experienced tire professional should inspect the condition of each tire during a rotation. Catching and correcting the cause(s) of uneven tire wear early can prevent your tires from wearing out too soon. Accelerated tire wear is not only expensive, it can also be dangerous.
2. Air Pressure
Another important part of tire maintenance is a monthly air pressure check. For the most accurate results, use a good tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure in the morning before you have driven the vehicle. (You can find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure in your owner’s manual or on a sticker typically mounted on the driver-side door.)
Under-inflated tires decrease your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, reduce the life of your tires and create a risk of a dangerous blowout. Fortunately, all vehicles made since 2007 come with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). If your vehicle is equipped with TPMS, make sure your regular service facility has the training and equipment to service it correctly.
At Virginia Tire & Auto, we are always evolving to accommodate changing technology. Our service technicians go through regular training to stay up-to-date on industry standards, and our shops are equipped to handle any TPMS service.
3. Tread Depth
Your tire tread enables your vehicle to grip the road and maintain control. If the grooves in the tire have worn down, your vehicle won’t grip the road effectively. To test the tread of your tires, use the “Quarter Test”:
- Find the area on your tire with the lowest tread.
- Take a quarter and insert it, headfirst, into the tire tread.
- If you can see all of George Washington’s head, your tire tread is at or below 4/32”and needs replaced soon.
4. Flat Tires
Even with good care, flat tires happen. Drivers need to know that there is only one way to properly repair a flat tire. Improperly repaired tires can cause blowouts, serious accidents and fatal injuries.
In the past, many auto maintenance providers repaired tires with string or fabric-based plugs. Alarmingly, some still do so today. Plugging a tire only costs $10-$15 and takes 10 minutes. This might seem great to a car owner looking to save time or money. But if consumers knew the risks involved, most would see that it’s not worth the risk.
The Correct Way to Repair a Tire
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association is clear about the proper method for tire repairs. A trained, qualified technician should inspect the tire inside and out. If the tire is able to be repaired, it should be patched and plugged from the inside-out, as opposed to simply plugged from the outside-in.
A proper tire repair will take about 30 minutes and cost $20-$30. If a tire cannot be safely repaired, you should replace it. Paying for a new tire is a much better option than putting yourself, your passengers and your vehicle at risk.
Quick Tips for Proper Tire Maintenance
Here are some other ways to practice proper tire maintenance:
- Have a trained technician balance your wheels every 15,000 miles.
- Get your wheels’ alignment checked once a year to ensure steering control.
- Check your spare tire on a regular basis.
- Tire repairs must be made between the tread shoulders, never on the sidewall.
- Tires can be repaired if there is one pre-existing repair, but a tire cannot be safely repaired a third time.
- Do not use a tube or sealant to repair tires.
- String/fabric-based plugs should never be used to plug a tire puncture.
- All tire services and repairs must conform to the tire manufacturer’s instructions.
Need Tire Repair or Replacement?
Bring your vehicle in to your local Virginia Tire & Auto. One of our seasoned mechanics will diagnose the issue and get you back on the road quickly. Schedule an appointment at any of our 17 locations today!