Women Drivers Blog

Tips for Smart Tire Care

November 2, 2010 / 

How much consideration do you give to the integrity of what’s carrying you and your family when traveling 60 mph down the highway? Along with engine and brake care, the condition of your tires tops the list of critical safety factors and demands more respect than we often give them.

Although car tires today are more high-tech than ever, it ultimately comes down to you (the vehicle owner) to maintain the tires.

The Cost of Incorrect Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is more important than you might think and is to be checked monthly. In cold weather, tires typically lose one or two pounds of air per month, and in warm weather, they lose air at an even higher rate. The U.S. Department of Energy states gas mileage can be improved by up to 3.3% by simply keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.

It’s estimated that most drivers lose 10% to as much as 50% of tire tread life due to under-inflated tires. Besides extra fuel consumption, what does this mean for the environmental impact of additional tires in landfills?

Need New Tires? Check with an Easy Test
How do you know when it’s time for new tires?  Worn tread depth is the obvious giveaway, and the minimum legal measurement of depth should be 2/32 of an inch.  A common test is to insert a penny with Abe Lincoln’s head upside down in the shallowest grove of a tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it means it’s time for new tires.

Tips for Smart Tire Care

  • Check your tire pressure monthly, such as every second gas stop. While you’re at it, inspect the side walls and rims for any wear and tear.
  • Checking your vehicle’s tire pressure is best done when the tires are cold before the vehicle has been driven one mile.
  • Carry your own tire pressure gauge.  The correct inflation amount for your vehicle is listed in the driver’s manual, and on a sticker in the glove compartment and/or the driver’s side door.
  • Have a tire inspection at your dealership before a long trip. 
  • If it needs more air, get it done. Do not ignore the possibility of a leak.
  • Rotation of tires should ideally be done every 5,000 miles or sooner.  An easy way to remember is to include tire inspections, alignment or rotation with your regular oil change and tune-ups every year.
  • Imbalanced tires and poor wheel alignment will cause one-sided tread wear, bald spots, a shaky steering wheel and noises such as squealing.
  • A visible sign of under-inflated tires is both edges of the tire will be worn down.  Over-inflated tires will reveal the center treads being more worn.
  • Because of the dangerous hazard of hydroplaning on wet pavement, the rear tires, which hold most of the grip, should be a priority for changing before the front tires.
  • Most new vehicles come with automatic tire pressure monitor sensor that alerts you when any of your tires may be underinflated.

It’s up to you to care for the rubber that meets the road and tire safety standards. Get into the habit of smart tire care, and you’ll feel better knowing that what’s carrying you and your family is reliable.