For many vehicle owners, doing routine maintenance on your vehicles can be a huge drag because it often comes with unwanted expenses, as if we all don’t already spend enough to keep our wheels turning?
The truth is many of the regular maintenance procedures you might pay a mechanic or dealership to perform for you can be quite simple, and when it comes to tires, much can be achieved just by paying attention to how your pressure changes and how they start to wear when they do. Tires can be a neat diagnostic tool in the sense that they will wear down in fairly recognizable patterns, revealing different issues you may be having with your vehicle.
You can’t really pay too much attention to your tires, checking up on them once a week isn’t overkill and in fact isn’t a bad habit to start getting into. This article will point out some basic knowledge and procedures you can use to keep ensure vehicle health from the perspective of your tires, focusing on using tire pressure and tread-ware as starting points.
One thing any regular driver should be aware of and pay attention to is the pressure of the tires on their vehicle.
Pressure gauges are cheap and can be purchased from most auto hardware stores or gas stations, you should always keep one in your car as they’re a handy tool to have. Most vehicles operate optimally when all four tires have even pressure, you will notice steering, handling, suspension and overall fuel consumption to be at their best when this is true.
Your pressure gauge will read you numbers in “pounds per square inch”, or psi for short. There are a handful of variables which determine what is the best pressure to keep your tires at including but not limited to the outdoor climate you’re driving around in, your average weight-load, the kind of tires you have, the size of your vehicle, etc… Most tires will actually tell you right on the side what is their specific optimal pressure to run at and is a great place to start, typically anywhere in the range 30-36psi is common. Most vehicles will drive happily in this range, just note what matters most for your vehicle is that all four tires are riding at the same pressure, which among other reasons is why it’s a good idea to regularly check your tires pressures.
As a diagnostic tool: Start by checking your tire pressure regularly, if you notice that your tires stay relatively at the same value every time you check, that’s a great sign that not only are your tires in great shape, but your alignment, steering and suspension systems are also displaying signs of good health. It is not at all uncommon for tires to slowly loose pressure over time so don’t be alarmed to see this, however if you notice that 1 more or more of your tires seem to decrease in pressure while the others stay consistent, this could be a sign that either the tire(s) in question may have a leak, or that something is going on with alignment, steering or suspension systems on that part of the vehicle and may be worth further investigation.
The other main attribute you can and should always keep an eye on is how much tread is left on your tire and how they are wearing down.
For those new to the concept, the tread of your tire refers to the grooved rubber wrapping the exterior circumference of your tire that is constantly making contact with the road as it spins. The treads are responsible for maximizing your vehicle’s grips to the road, they push water from under the tires to the exterior and allow for maximum control of your vehicle.
The first thing you can do as a vehicle owner is check the remaining depth of your treads using a tire tread depth gauge, another inexpensive tool you can purchase anywhere that sells vehicle tools. You should measure your tread depth by using the tool on the shallowest tread.
Most tires today come with tread wear indicators which can be seen as horizontal bars of rubber lined in the grooves adjacent to the direction your tire spins. When these indicators become flush with the treads they interconnect, this means the tire has reached the 2/32” point and should be replaced.
As a diagnostic tool: Observing how your treads wear down is a good way to learn about a few aspects of your vehicle. Here are some go-to explanations of what might be happening in certain cases:
Remember to check on the tread wear of your tires at least once a month if not more often, and always before and after taking longer trips. Keeping your eye on these variables will ultimately lead to a safer driving experience for you and your passengers, as well as help you stay on top of a major aspect of your vehicles health, preventing major breakdowns that can be avoided by early detection. We hope some of the information in this article has been of value to you, happy driving!
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