Your car’s tires won’t last forever, but with regular attention you can keep them in good shape for several years. Here are a few ways to check on your tires each month to extend their performance and stretch your initial investment – all while staying safe on the road.
Even if your vehicle has a tire-pressure monitoring system, manual checks are still important. Under or overinflated tires can lead to accidents, damaged tread and increased fuel consumption.
To check the pressure yourself, wait until your car has been parked and cooled for two to three hours. Using the sticker on the inside of the driver’s door (or consult your owner’s manual), confirm your car’s recommended pounds per square inch (psi). Measure your tires with a pressure gauge, and add or release air to reach the appropriate level of air pressure.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire tread measuring 2/32 of an inch or less puts you at risk for an accident. To check the tread, hold a penny so that the top of Lincoln’s head faces the tire, then lower it between the treads. If he’s mostly covered, you’re in good shape. If his head is fully exposed, your tires are worn down and need to be replaced.
Because rubber degrades over time, many experts recommend replacing tires at 10 years no matter what. Examine the manufacture date code when following this suggestion, not the purchase date. Look for an embossed string of letters and numbers on the tire’s sidewall; the last four digits after “DOT” indicate the week and year the tire was made.
When it comes to maximizing tire life, a little bit of preventive maintenance could be the key to avoiding premature wear and ensuring a safe ride.