How to Get the Most out of Your Tires
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. Find the sticker on the inside of the driver's side door or consult your owner's manual to confirm your make and model's recommended PSI, measure with a pressure gauge, and add or release air as needed.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire tread measuring 2/32 of an inch or less puts you at risk. 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 for now. 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 preventative maintenance could be the key to avoiding premature wear and ensuring a safe ride.