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Boosting Mileage with Tire Care

Boost Mileage by Making Sure Tires are Properly Inflated

Tires are often an overlooked and forgotten aspect of the automotive world - even though they’re the only component of the car that actually touches the pavement, tires don't get any respect!

Tires influence the braking, steering, comfort, handling, fuel efficiency and driving safety of every vehicle, but are often ignored or misunderstood by many consumers. Tires pound over potholes, careen off curbs and screech to a halt, but the prevailing public sentiment is, “They’re round, black and have tread. Beyond that, who cares?”

With gas prices now hovering around the $3 level, smart drivers care. Savvy consumers are seeking to increase fuel economy and the life of their tires by paying more attention to those rubber objects that are attached to their vehicle. As Dylan meant to say, “The tires, they are a changin’.”

It’s not important that most people still aren’t aware that today’s tires are scientific marvels, holding up under extreme heat and freezing conditions, cruising over pavement, rocks, dirt, water, snow, mud, gravel and all sorts of road hazards. It is worth noting, though, that these hi-tech tires, with their advanced tread designs, sidewalls, belts and compounds, are beginning to garner more public attention as gas prices escalate.

According to Dan Guiney, Technical Manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, which manufactures everything from ultra-high performance tires for passenger cars and SUVs to tires for buses, trucks and airplanes, “Tires that are under-inflated by 6 to 7 psi (pounds per square inch) increase tire rolling resistance 10% or more, increase tread wear rates and tire fatigue.

“When a tire is under-inflated, the tire’s road contact zone and cyclic stress level changes resulting in undesirable loss in tire and vehicle performance.”

To prevent the above, Yokohama and the Rubber Manufacturers Association recommend the following in maintaining proper inflation level (a vehicle’s proper inflation level can be found either on the door or on a placard in the glove box) and in checking tire wear:

  • Check tire inflation pressure (including the spare) at least once a month and before every long trip. Tires must be checked when they are cold; that is, before they been run a mile. If you must drive over one mile for air, before you leave home, measure the cold inflation pressure of each tire and record the actual under-inflation amount for each tire.

  • Upon arriving at the service station, measure the inflation pressure of each tire again, then inflate the warm tire(s) to a level equal to the warm pressure plus the under-inflated amount you measured when the tire was cold. If the cold tire inflation pressure matches the placard recommendation, then no further adjustment is necessary.

  • Tires should be rotated at least as stated in the owner’s manual, every 6,000-8000 miles, and the alignment should be checked yearly. Misaligned tires can cause the car to drag, which lowers mileage and causes unnecessary tire wear.

  • At least once a month, the car owner should inspect the tires closely for signs of uneven wear. Uneven wear patterns may be caused by improper inflation pressures, misalignment, improper balance or suspension neglect. If not corrected, further tire damage will occur. Most likely, the cause can be corrected at a tire dealer/seller or other service facility.

  • Consumers can go here for more tire care and safety tips.

The Auto Club reports that as many as 86 percent of drivers don’t check their tire inflation properly. However, this percentage is dropping as gas prices under-inflate consumer pocketbooks and former tire novices learn how to maintain proper pressure levels.

“Even though tire technology has advanced as much in the past decade as almost any other facet of automotive engineering, only discerning consumers will care about high-tech matters such as new tread compounding featuring silica used in Yokohama’s Avid TRZ tires,” says Guiney. “However, with escalating fuel prices, the time is fast approaching when drivers are going to focus on simple things like proper tire pressure to maximize tire performance, increase fuel economy, and boost treadwear.”

(Source: Yokohama Tires)