Simple Tire Maintenance
Tires are often the most neglected parts of a vehicle. And yet, they are among the most important and easily cared for. By adopting these few simple tire maintenance practices, you can increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency, reduce harmful emissions, save money and make your vehicle safer.
- Measure your tire pressure monthly using a good quality tire gauge. A visual inspection is not sufficient to detect under or over-inflation problems.
- Have your tires aligned annually.
- Tires should be balanced approximately every 20 000 km, or when drivers feel a vibration.
- Rotate your tires regularly.
- Monitor tread wear and replace tires when your tire tread is worn out.
- Conduct a visual check for embedded stones, glass and other foreign objects that could work their way into the tire and cause a leak.
Proper alignment is an important part of tire maintenance. Poor alignment will cause your tires to wear unevenly and you may experience handling problems, such as "pulling" or vibration. Poor alignment will also increase your fuel consumption. Common practice is to have your alignment checked annually, or every 25,000 km.
Wheels need to be balanced. If they are out of balance, you may feel a pounding or shaking through the steering wheel or your seat. This pounding could shorten the life of suspension components, lead to uneven tire wear (bald spots) and increase fuel consumption.
Regular rotation will minimize wear and prolong the life of your tires. Rotation will also reduce the risk of sudden tire failure.
Front tires work harder than rear tires as they must bear the scrubbing action of steering as well as rolling wear. You can prolong the life of your tires by rotating them. Full size spares should be part of the rotation pattern. Rotate your tires according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation, found in the owner's manual. Or, talk to your tire professional to find out how - and how often - the tires on your vehicle should be rotated. Common practice is to rotate tires approximately every 10,000 km.
Tires are designed to grip the road, allowing your vehicle to start, stop and go around corners safely in any weather. The treads that accomplishes this wear out over time, but drivers can take precautionary steps to prolong the life of their tires.
Properly maintaining your tires will increase their life. It is extremely important to check your tire treads for signs of wear. Proper treads allow for normal handling of your vehicle and help prevent skidding and hydroplaning. Tires are manufactured with a "wear bar" that tells you when there is less than 1.6 mm (2/32 inch) of tread depth remaining - when you see this wear bar, the tire must be replaced. You could also try the penny test: place a penny in the tire's groove with the Queen's crown facing down. If you can see the top of the Queen's crown, the tire needs replacing.
It is important to perform regular visual inspections of your tires for signs of damage and excessive wear. Look for embedded objects, such as rocks, nails or glass. Catching problems early can save you money and prevent a sudden tire failure.
When not in use, tires should be stored upright in an indoor location, out of direct sunlight or exposure to strong artificial light, heat, ozone (electrical motors) and hydrocarbons. If tires are stored on their rims, the pressure should be reduced to approximately 15 psi to avoid cracking or deformation.
For more information on tire maintenance, please view the Autosmart Fact Sheet Series (PDF: 428 Kb)