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For some reason, people tend to forget that tires are the only part of their vehicle that is touching the road. Spending money on a vehicle but neglecting this maintenance hurts performance to where it costs you money!
Keeping them properly inflated to the manufacture’s recommended specs is the key to preventing premature failure and roadside frustration. Use your pressure gauge and check your pressures at least once a month. If you have to add more than a few psi then there is an underlying problem. There could be an assembly problem or small leak in the valve. It’s wise to contact a professional immediately if this is suspected. Check the pressure when they are cold before you do any driving. Just driving down your driveway causes your pressure to increase and you’ll get an bogus reading. A digital gauge gives a far more precise reading than a conventional gauge. Here are some visual clues to gauge whether or not you have an inflation problem:
Wear on Both Edges: UNDER INFLATION
A tire that has both side edges worn down may be under inflated. Too little pressure is a worse fate as it reduces its life. The abnormal wear patterns can also cause handling anomalies which could result in an accident. This excessive wear generates excessive heat which reduces it's overall durability – or worse, a flat. Your fuel economy is also affected by the increase of rolling resistance (under inflated makes your vehicle expend more energy). Regularly check for proper inflation. Shoulder wear on a tire often is caused by misalignment.
Wear in the Center: OVER INFLATION
When a tire has too much air in it – it is over inflated. The center balloons out and bears the load of the car causing the center to wear out faster than the outer edges. Over inflation is dangerous because under rough terrain or under heavy loads, the added stress can cause “blowout.” Have your alignment looked at; perform any recommended necessary services. Maintaining proper inflation levels is only one part of maintenance.
Here are some other areas to pay attention to ensure your tires, and vehicle, reach their potentials:
To check your tread depth, insert a penny into a tread slot with Lincoln upside-down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head when you look level with the tire it is time to replace it. Also most passenger, light truck, and medium commercial tires have tread wear indicators molded into the tread. It is time to replace a tire when the indicator becomes visible.
Cups or Dips in the tread: WORN PARTS:
Cupping, also called dipping or scalloping is most common in the front, though rear tires can also cup depending on the rear suspension setup. The steering components may be worn out or the wheels are out of balance if you notice that any of your tires are cupped.
Saw tooth edges: MISALIGNMENT:
Do the edges of your tires tread look like a saw was taken to them? Literally this is what is happening to them. The road is chewing, sawing, at your them and it won’t be long before the it is completely destroyed. The solution is a toe-in or toe-out alignment correction.
You’re driving down the road and your steering wheel is bouncing around in unison with the beat blaring from your car’s speakers. Soon comes the headache as the vibration starts working its way from your hands into the back of your skull. If this describes a typical day behind the wheel for you, then its time to get your car balanced. Unbalanced tires cause vibration, which can fatigue the driver, and cause premature wear. It also places a lot of unnecessary stress on your vehicle’s suspension. Balancing when you have a new tire mounted on your rim, or after you have had a repair on some part of the wheel is recommended. Bring your car into the shop right when your car begins to vibrate or shimmy.
When you turn the steering wheel right and your car wanders left it would be a pretty good indication your car needs an alignment service. A poorly aligned vehicle will suffer from many different ailments. The worst being the wear it places on your tires. A vehicle is properly aligned when there are no abnormal signs of tread wear and all suspension and steering components are functioning within recommended guidelines.
Rotation can easily be performed in your own garage. No need to go to the repair shop, unless you are not one to do your own repairs. Refer to your owner’s manual on their recommendations. Roll-out your floor jack and do it yourself. Remember to initially loosen your lug nuts before you jack up your vehicle. Use jack stands for safety. Your vehicle's owner's manual specifies the proper rotation pattern and recommends the schedule for performing it. Sometimes there is no schedule specified. It doesn’t mean that that a rotation should never be performed. If there is clear information in your manual, a good rule of thumb to follow is to rotate them every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Don’t forget to torque your lug nuts to specifications.
Proper tread depth is essential for proper performance. If you notice a loss or change in wet traction, you may not have enough tread left. Replace any once the tread depth reaches 1/16th of an inch.
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