Proper tire care will help improve your safety, fuel efficiency, and budget. In 2017, there were 738 fatalities in tire-related motor vehicle accidents, so you can’t afford to ignore your tires. Understanding the finer points of tire care and maintenance will help you get the best possible service for your vehicle.
Tire traction is responsible for the resistance you feel between your tires and the road. While your vehicle’s engine provides the torque, it’s the tires that actually transfer this energy into forward motion on the road. You need to make sure that your tires can give you the traction you need when you’re driving. A loss of traction can cause your car to skid out of control, veer off the road, or completely fail to stop.
If the tread on your tires is too worn, they can’t provide you with the traction that you need. Tread depth is measured in 32nds of an inch. A new tire will usually have tread that’s at least 10/32″ deep. You should replace your tires when they’re at 2/32″. Regular tire inspections will help you identify wear early on, before you’re dealing with a potentially dangerous loss of control on the road.
The quickest way to check the depth of your tread is to place a penny in one of the grooves of your tire tread with Lincoln’s image in an upside-down position. If the penny goes deep enough to allow the tread to line up with Lincoln’s hairline, start planning for a tire replacement soon. If the tread just touches the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. If the penny doesn’t go deep enough for Lincoln to be concealed at all, you’re driving in a seriously hazardous condition and must get new tires immediately.
Safety on the Road
Regular tire care will help ensure that you’re safe when you’re on the road. Tires that are unevenly worn or damaged will compromise your safety and put both you and your passengers at greater risk for a car accident. You should inspect your tires regularly for signs of trouble like:
- Regular under-inflation: This can indicate a slow leak that needs to be repaired.
- A bulge or blister on the tire: A prime indicator of a weak spot and a sign of a potential blowout, an irregularity in the shape of the tire is a sign that it should be replaced.
- Uneven tread wear: If the tires aren’t evenly worn, your vehicle may have poor alignment, problems with the suspension, or underinflated tires.
- Cracks on the sidewalls: Air can escape through cracked tires, which puts you at risk on the road. Have the tires inspected to determine if this is a manufacturing defect that makes you eligible for a covered replacement. Otherwise, you will need to replace the tire yourself.
Addressing issues with your tires as quickly as possible will go a long way toward keeping you safe as you’re driving.
Your tires play a big role in your fuel efficiency. Simply keeping your tires inflated to the right pressure may improve your gas mileage by up to 3%. Every 1 psi decrease in your inflation results in a 0.2% drop in fuel efficiency. It’s easy to check your tire inflation with a gauge. You can find the appropriate tire pressure for your vehicle noted on a sticker inside the driver’s side door jamb or in the glove box. This information can also be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
You can also improve your fuel efficiency with your tire choice. Tires that have low rolling resistance may save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the tires. In Consumer Reports tests, there was a 27% difference in rolling resistance between all-season tires that had the best rolling resistance and those that had the worst.
According to the Department of Energy, between 4 and 11% of fuel consumption is determined by the rolling resistance of the tires. Lowering your rolling resistance by 10% will improve your fuel efficiency by about 1%. This may seem minimal, but every bit can help when you’re trying to lower your fuel expenses.
Regular tire care will help extend the life of your tires so you don’t have to replace them as often. This lets you get as much use out of your investment as possible and ultimately lowers the operating and maintenance costs associated with your vehicle. Checking the air pressure in your tires doesn’t cost a thing, and it goes a long way toward promoting even wear, good traction, and excellent gas mileage. Check the tire pressure at least once a month and inflate your tires as needed.
You can also extend the life of your tires by:
- Having the tires rotated every 5,000 miles.
- Having the tires balanced with every tire rotation.
- Checking the tire alignment twice a year.
Watch for signs of trouble such as a shaking steering wheel or a vehicle that drifts when you’re not holding the wheel. Having the wheels aligned is a simple maintenance task that most service centers can take care of quickly and easily to help your tires last longer.
The Right Tires for the Season
If you live in a climate with extreme weather or significant changes in weather from one season to the next, it’s important to have your tires changed seasonally so you’re always using the best equipment for the job. Winter tires provide extra traction on ice, slush, and snow. Summer tires are designed to offer better speed and agility in warm conditions.
It’s crucial not to use season-specific tires at the wrong time of year. If your vehicle has summer tires in winter, it will take about 52 yards to come to a full stop on snow when moving at 31 miles per hour, compared to just 26 yards with winter tires. Using all-season tires throughout the year is far better than driving with tires designed for the wrong season entirely.
If your vehicle needs tire service, stop by our service center at Huffines Kia Corinth. We can help you make sure your vehicle is in great shape and well-prepared to handle anything you might face on the road.
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