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Tire Maintenance for Newbies

Newbie drivers have a lot of vehicle maintenance to learn, including how to properly maintain the vehicle’s tires. With the right knowledge and game plan, however, this maintenance doesn’t have to feel like such an overwhelming responsibility.

There’s More Than Milage Expectancy To Consider

Despite tires playing a pivotal role in everything from safety to fuel economy, their maintenance is something newbie drivers don’t pay a lot of attention. They often mistake maintaining tires as just keeping up with how many miles they’ve clocked on a set. Wrong.

Original equipment tires generally have a life expectancy of 50,000 miles, and tread-life and mileage warranties can range from 30,000 to 100,000 miles on a new set of tires today. Yet, these life expectancy guidelines for tires are just that – guidelines. They do not account for factors that prematurely wear, tear, and age your tires, including:

• How you drive.
• Where you drive geographically.
• Roadway conditions.
• Weather and environment influencers.
• Encountering road debris.

All of the above influence the life of your tires, and can lead to blowouts, wrecks, and even structural vehicle damage if you don’t properly inspect and maintain your tires. In fact, those tread-life and mileage warranties are often voided if you don’t properly inflate, rotate, and align your tires.

Three-Point Beginner’s Guide To Basic Maintenance Of Tires

1. Check Pressure 

Low pressure is the leading cause of premature tread damage and blowouts. If you don’t have an onboard PSI in your vehicle, then you’ll need to manually check the pressure in your tires each month. This is done with a pressure gauge, which only costs a few bucks to purchase.

The pressure is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. Check your owner’s manual for PSI recommendations for original tires and the manufacturer’s recommendation for all secondary tires. Keep in mind that PSI varies based on the type of tires you have and the type of driving you to do, but recommendations usually range between 30 to 35 PSI.

If any of your tires aren’t at the recommended PSI, then use an air pump to inflate it. Buy your own hand-held pump for ease and convenience, or you can generally locate one at a local gas station. Be cautious not to inflate your tires past the recommended PSI, which can be just as dangerous as not having enough air.

2. Visual Inspection 

Tread condition, not mileage, should be your ultimate guide for when your tires need replacing since so many roadway and driving factors influence a tire’s life. An easy way to check the tread is by placing a penny in a tread groove. If you can see all of Abe’s head, then its time for a replacement.

Thin sidewalls and cracks are the number one cause of blowouts. Check the sidewalls of your tires for any visible cracks, worn spots, discolorations, and dry rot that indicate they need repair or replacement.

3. Schedule Professional Routine Maintenance For Tires 

Your owner’s manual and/or manufacturer will offer you a suggested maintenance routine for rotation and alignment of tires. It’s important to follow these recommendations for the tire’s longevity, your own safety, and to ensure that any warranty on your tires isn’t voided.

Tire rotation is usually done every 5,000-7,000 miles. It switches the location of your tires so that tread wears down evenly. Alignment offers a similar benefit by adjusting the vehicle’s suspension so that tires make contact with the road at the best angle.