Tires are something a lot of drivers take for granted. Compared with recent strides in auto technology such as electronic stability control, backup cameras, and even heated seats, it’s easier than ever to see tires as just basic chunks of rubber.
However, ignoring your tires can come at a cost – worn out tires can reduce the control you have of your vehicle, decrease gas mileage and result in a less comfortable ride. So, when the rubber hits the road, you’ll want to make sure it’s in optimal shape. The good news is, with a little diligence, you can play a big part in keeping your tires roadworthy.
The most important thing to consider is inflation. Seems obvious, but consider that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, just 19% of drivers keep their tires properly inflated. Simply put: properly inflated tires perform better, last longer and keep you safer. All you need is a tire pressure gauge you can buy at any auto parts store. Use it every 3,000 miles or right before a long trip, especially during cold weather when tires naturally deflate. And if you have a newer car, your dashboard may indicate when your tire pressure is getting low. Don’t ignore it.
You can always refer to the owner’s manual to determine what the correct inflation is for your tires. However, this information can often be more quickly found on a printed placard on the vehicle itself (usually in the glove box, or on the driver’s side door). Note: don’t use the “maximum limit” included on the tire as your guide. That number reflects the maximum amount of pressure the tire can safely take. Just a little more and it could blow out.
3,000 miles is also the most frequently recommended distance you should go between oil changes. Though this standard may not apply as much to newer cars, referring to the mileage on the oil change sticker on your windshield could be a good way to remember when it’s time to check your tires.
“Change” your tires
Another important element to check every 3,000 miles is your tire’s tread depth. And, there’s an easy way to do it, especially if you happen to have a little pocket change. You start by inserting a quarter, with Washington upside down, into the tread. If you can see the entirety of George’s head, that means you have less than 1/8th of an inch of tread, and you need new tires.
Stay in the rotation
Lastly, seeing how much rotating they already do, it may sound like odd advice to rotate your tires. But, tires do not wear out uniformly, which means they gradually become unbalanced. This contributes to your car “leaning” when you let go of a wheel, a shimmy in the steering wheel at certain speeds, and decreased tire life as well. Have your mechanic rotate front-to-back (and vice versa) every 6,000 miles or so.
Good tires are worth the care. But also know that, if you get into an accident, having mechanical parts replacement auto coverage, like the kind offered by The Hanover, means you’ll receive the full amount for new tires in the event of a claim, without a deduction for depreciation. Talk to your independent insurance agent to make sure your tires – and your car – are properly protected.
LC November 2018-512