It may be hard to believe, but your car’s tires are the most important part of your vehicle when it comes to performance and safety. Simply put, your tires are the only thing connecting your car to the road, so you have to make sure they're in top condition at all times.
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Have you ever known a friend or family member who always seems to have bad luck with getting flat tires? This may not be a simple case of bad luck, but rather a lack of proper attentiveness to the quality of their tires over time. When your tires aren't properly inflated, not only are you costing yourself the aggravation of a tow truck or fixing a flat yourself when you do get a flat tire, you are also costing yourself valuable gas mileage when driving on deflated tires, forcing your engine to work harder. You can keep your tires inflated by visiting almost any local gas station with an air pump. If you're not sure if your tires are deflated or not, you can purchase easy to use tire pressure gauges for around $15-$20.
Should You Buy Winter Tires?
Seasons and the weather also play an important role in deciding if your tires are appropriate. For those who live in warmer climates in the U.S., you don’t have to worry about constantly changing your tires every half year. For those who live in places where temperatures reach freezing level (like in Boston where are), you understand how important having a good set of tires can be. This goes above and beyond being properly inflated, especially when you are forced to drive in snowy conditions. For tough winter conditions, you will want winter tires to prevent slipping on the snow and ice. The main difference between winter tires and all-season tires is that winter tires use a special compound of rubber that keeps it from freezing as easily, leading to better traction. A winter tire’s tread pattern also prevents the vehicle from slipping as much due to the thickness and grooves within the tread that angles in such a way to push out the snowy or wet conditions, leading to better traction and stability. If you live in snowy conditions and have not purchased winter tires, you should do so as it improves traction and safety. They typically start around $100 per tire and go up.
Check Your Tire's Tread Level
Just because your tires may look good on the surface, does not always mean they are safe. In fact, there is actually a law requiring tires to carry a certain amount of tread. To be sure you meet the legal requirement, stop at your local auto body shop while in for maintenance to have them check your tires. If you can’t make it in to a shop, there are a few tricks that you can perform on your own.
The first trick is the “penny” test. Place a penny upside down on the side of Abe Lincoln’s head. Place Abe’s head into the groove of your tire. If you can see any part of Abe Lincoln’s upside down head, your tread has worn down and is considered “bald”. Bald tires are ineffective because they can’t push water out of the way, which can lead to hydroplaning in wet conditions.
The second trick is more of a specific feature. Most tires have what is called a Tire Wear Indicator or TWI built onto the rubber. It is essentially a rubber bar on the tire itself that is at the minimum legal height for tire tread. If your tire tread is worn down to the point that your TWI shows, then it is time for a new tire. Always check your tires for wear and tear and to see if you have a TWI. If you cannot find one, then simply try the penny test.
Why You Should Rotate Your Tires
Rotating your tires is also a very important part of tire maintenance and something you should be doing to extend the life of your tires. Why? Think about it this way. If you leave your four tires in the same corner of your vehicle, over time they begin to wear down in the same place. Every turn you make using the front tires and every time you brake, it creates an uneven loss of tread on the front tires due to more weight being placed on the front compared to the back. A tire rotation ensures that all four tires experience different levels of wear over time, which actually evens them out since front tires can wear down quicker than rear tires. Your owners’ manual should be able to provide information as to when you should be rotating them. The general rule is to rotate them every oil change, provided you are changing your oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.
Wellesley Toyota has a full parts and tire warehouse for all your needs. If you come here for an oil change, ask us if you should have your tires rotated as well and we can give you an honest and accurate answer. For any questions regarding your tires, feel free to call our parts department at (888) 556-7538 or you can visit our tire center by clicking our Tire Center button below.