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Proper Tire Care Can Extend the Life of Your Car

Take Care of Your Tires ... and They'll Take Care of You!When the average driver thinks about a car’s most important performance variables, she probably think of the engine’s capabilities, gas mileage or the vehicle’s overall handling. What most people don’t think about are the tires. But tires are more than just those round, black, rubber things keeping your wheel rims from hitting the pavement. In fact, the tires are solely responsible for how your vehicle responds to your driving and steering, they can increase the gas mileage you get out of your vehicle, and they help keep you in control.Your tires do all this for you, so what should you do for them? How can you keep your tires in good condition?

There are two basic things you should do to increase the efficiency of your vehicle, keep you and your passengers safe and extend the life of your tires. These key elements are maintaining proper inflation pressure and regularly rotating the tires.“The number one cause of tire damage is improper inflation pressure, which causes irregular treadwear and poor gas mileage,” said Rick Brennan, director of Marketing Communications for Yokohama Tire Corporation.Many consumers are unaware that the inflation pressure listed on the tire itself is the tire’s maximum pressure, not its ideal pressure.

To determine your vehicle’s optimum pressure, it’s best to consult your owner’s manual. If the manual has no specifications, there are other places you can look to find what you need to know. Most vehicles also have a sticker with information on correct tire pressure. Look for your vehicle’s sticker on the door jam or doorpost, glove compartment door, or on the fuel door. The sticker will tell you the pressure you should maintain to get the best performance out of the vehicle, even the correct tire size and maximum vehicle load.

Once you have determined your tires’ ideal pressure, it’s important to check the pressure once a month and before any long trips. It’s also important to know how the outside temperature can effect your tires.“Tires will lose about 1 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature drop,” said Brennan. “It’s also best to check pressure when the tires are still cold, before you’ve driven a mile.”Checking tire pressure when a tire is ‘cold’ ensures that you will get an accurate reading because it’s natural for tire pressure to increase as you drive. Proper air pressure extends tread life, improves safety and reduces fuel consumption — all vital factors in saving energy and protecting the environment. So, to avoid over-inflating or under-inflating, you should always check the pressure before your tires warm up.

For the same reasons, you should never reduce the air pressure in a hot tire to try to achieve the desired inflation pressure. Doing so will cause your tires, at normal temperatures, to be under-inflated. Also, never reduce tire pressures to increase traction in snow, ice or mud.To further extend the life of your tires, they should be rotated on a regular basis. “Tire rotation, which should be performed every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, extends a tire’s tread life by equalizing treadwear,” Brennan said. “Rotation will also maintain accurate handling and response and optimize traction.”Rotation is important because tires wear differently.

Tires on a rear-wheel drive vehicle and a front-wheel drive vehicle will all exhibit different wear patterns. Also, the tires on any one vehicle wear differently. They are all mounted in different positions and some are drive tires while others are not. This means all four tires will wear in different areas. Rotation will allow them to wear evenly so that one area won’t wear out quicker than another.Drivers of high performance vehicles should also be aware that tires on these types of vehicles will wear much more rapidly than that on a regular vehicle. This means rotation becomes even more important.In winter driving, it is important to remember that as a tire wears, wet and snow traction is reduced. Because snow tires have a wear platform (when traction is not at its highest), tires that are worn close to the treadwear indicators have significantly reduced traction and should not be used on snow covered roads.

Maintaining proper tire inflation and rotating your tires while monitoring treadwear will help you extend the life of your tires by as much as 25 percent. So, whether you’re a new driver or a veteran, maintaining proper pressure and keeping up with a regular rotation schedule will make your time on the road safer, better for your tires, and your car’s performance. Courtesy of Car Care Council