When talking about vehicle maintenance and safety, most people focus on what’s going on under your car’s hood. While your engine, battery, fluids, control systems, and more under there are important, your tires play a bigger role in your vehicle’s performance in more ways than you may realize. Your tires also give you plenty of signs that an issue may be just around the corner, and they also tell you when their time is up. Learn more about this important feature of your vehicle and how you should be keeping an eye on them in the future.
1. Proper tire conditions are crucial for safety.
When people typically think of vehicle safety, they most often refer to airbags, brakes, the construction of the car, etc. While each of these components is important, have the right set of tires is actually more important to the day-to-day driving of your car. If your tires are too worn down or aren’t inflated properly, their influence on the rest of your vehicle will impact those other components anyway. You need optimal grip to accelerate, turn, and brake properly. Tires that are improperly inflated run the risk of popping or not performing correctly on the road, which could cause you to have an accident if you’re going fast enough or are in difficult traffic conditions. The wear and tear your tires experience can also cause an accident. Tires that are too worn down won’t grip the road as they should, making driving dangerous. Check your tires frequently using the trusted penny test. Lower a penny upside down in between your tires’ tread. If Abraham Lincoln’s head can be seen, your tread has been worn too low and it’s time to get a new set.
2. Tire pressure is more technical than you think.
We just covered why tire pressure is important, but how do you maintain the right inflation? In most vehicles, there is a sticker on the jamb of your driver-side door that tells you what your optimal tire pressure should be. Tire pressure isn’t a guessing game. It’s mandated by your vehicle’s manufacturer to get the best performance and safety out of this specific vehicle model. Pressure recommendations are generally listed in PSI, short for “pounds per square inch”, and you should expect the proper pressures to be between 30 and 35 PSI for most vehicles. Running your tires just even just a few PSI low can hurt your fuel economy, cause your tires to wear out faster, and even keep them from providing proper grip. Over-inflating your tires can also be a problem, putting added strain on the tire materials and causing uneven tread wear.
3. The wear of your tires can alert you to other issues.
Your tire tread should be even across and around the tire. If it’s not, it could indicate an issue with pressure, or it could mean you have a bigger problem. If you notice more wear on the inside of the tires, closer to the center of your vehicle, it could mean your wheels are out of alignment and need to be fixed. If more outer wear is occurring, you could still need realignment, but you also may be taking corners at too high of a speed, ruining your tires. If the middle section is wearing faster, you’re over-inflating your tires. Adversely, you’re probably too low if your wear is on both the outer and inner sections rather than the middle.