Maximize the Life of your Tires – A Tire Maintenance Guide

February 18th, 2020 by

Maximize the Life of your Tires – A Tire Maintenance Guide

Tires are the only thing connecting your vehicle to the road. They are arguably one of the most important parts of your vehicle, even though many disagree and neglect tires until they’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. Checking your tires regularly will help; get better gas mileage, increase the life of the tires, prevent uneven and premature wear, prevent catastrophic failure, keep traction to prevent an accident. Here are a few tips to keep you on the road and maximize the life of your tires.

Check Early, Check Often

The easiest way to check if your tires are good to go is to take a second to visibly look them over, even if it’s just as you’re gasing up at the gas station. Taking that extra second to make sure your tires are adequetly inflated could prevent you from popping a low tire saving you hundreds of dollars and if you’re vehicle is AWD, it’s recommended that all 4 tires are replaced at the same time to save your drivetrain from harm. You do the math. You should be checking your tires about every other week – keeping a close eye on tire pressure, looking for uneven wear or punctures, or anything out of the norm. Get an idea of what your tires look like inflated to the ideal pressure (Look inside driver’s door jamb or check your Owner’s Manual), you should be able to tell when your tire is low just by looking (although, just because it doesn’t look low, doesn’t mean it’s at the right pressure).

Tire Tread Depth Chart stopping distance based on tread depth at Hello Nissan of Valencia near Santa Calrita, CA and Los Angeles Metro Area

Ideal Inflation

Keeping your tires at the ideal tire pressure consistently (Don’t set it and forget it, you need to constantly monitor your tire pressure) will maximize tire life, grip/traction and fuel efficiency. There are so many reasons why having the right tire pressure is important. Inflating your tires to the recommended Manufacturer specifications means you don’t have to do any guesswork, they have identified just the right amount of tire pressure balancing traction and fuel efficiency. Most of the time, you are just going to want to follow OEM recommendations. Depending on your conditions you may want to adjust your tire pressure slightly: for cold, snow and ice conditions you may like to drop down a PSI or two and for warmer climates you may decide to raise tire pressure slightly. Lowering tire pressure increases grip, but decreases fuel efficiency and is more likely to pop if you hit a large pothole, etc. Raising tire pressure increases fuel efficiency but decreases grip, especially under wet/snowy conditions.

Ideal Tire Inflation PSI at Hello Nissan of Valencia Nissan Dealership near Santa Clarita, CA and Los Angeles Metro Area

How To Check

There are a few different techniques you should learn to make sure your tires are safe and in optimal health. Using these methods will help you recognize if your tires need to be replaced or if you just need some TLC.

Use the Penny method. Place a penny in your tires tread, the top Lincoln’s head should not be visible I.E you should not see the hair on the top of his head. If your tires are at or below (technically above) Lincoln’s head you have 2/32nds of an inch or less left of tread and your tires need to be replaced immediately. Keep in mind this is the amount of tread holding you onto the road, any amount of precipitation on the road more than that and you are looking for trouble – 2/32nds of an inch is basically nothing. If you don’t have a Penny you can use a quarter also, but note that the Quarter is larger so the replacement “line” you are looking to use to gauge the tread depth is slightly above Washington’s head.

Check tires maintenance penny test at Hello Nissan of Valencia Nissan dealership near Santa Clarita, CA and Los Angeles Metro Area.

Buy a Tire Tread Gauge. The professionals use them to get an accurate reading on your tread depth, but it’s not necessary for the average Joe checking tires at home. If you are going to buy used tires it’s highly suggested to use a Tire Tread Gauge to see how much tread is left and that the tires have even wear. You can buy one here.

Check tire tread depth gauge at Hello Nissan of Valencia near Santa Clarita, CA and Los Angeles Metro Area

Use a Tire Pressure Gauge. This should be obvious, you need a Tire Pressure Gauge to check your tires pressure and make sure it’s at the correct PSI. A Tire Pressure Gauge is necessary for filling your tires, do not try to “eyeball” tire pressure. A lot of tire shops give these out for free, but if you don’t already have one here is a cheap Tire Pressure Gauge, or if you’re in a pinch you can buy one at AutoZone. Keep this gauge in your car, I keep mine in the lower door cubby so I always have it in hand, you never know when you will need it!

How to check tire pressure with tire pressure gauge at Hello Nissan of Valencia near Santa Clarita, CA and Los Angeles Metro Area

Use the shake test. If your tires are displaying uneven wear and you’re up to the task, you can easily check if there is a mechanical suspension failure by raising up the vehicle and shaking the tire left-to-right and up-and-down. If you’re wheel shakes at all it will need repair. It could be; Wheel  Bearing, Tie Rod or Ball Joint. If it doesn’t wiggle, you may be looking at an alignment to get things sorted out. Watch this YouTube video for step-by-step instructions.

Shake Test for Wheel Bearing, Ball Joint, Tie Rod at Hello Nissan of Valencia Nissan Dealership near Santa Clarita, CA and Los Angeles Metro Area

Keeping your tires at the right pressure, and at a healthy tread will save you from headaches, keep you on the road, as well as saving you some coin. By using these methods and constantly monitoring your tires you will increase their life, increase fuel efficiency, prevent uneven/premature wear, prevent a popped tire/damaged rim, and keep you safe on the road.