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Car Care: The Importance of Tire Maintenance

Tire Tread
While tires may not be as flashy as modern active safety technology, well-kept tires are essential for safe driving. Tires play a major role in maintaining traction, improving your ride quality, optimizing fuel economy and preventing excess wear and tear on your vehicle. To maximize your vehicle’s safety and performance, consider these tips for maintaining its tires.
 
Keep an eye on the tread depth
 
For maximum grip on slippery roads, you’ll need tires with a healthy amount of tread. To check the tread depth on your vehicle’s tires, grab some pocket change. While you may have heard of using a penny to check the tread depth, the American Automobile Association recommends busting out a quarter for this monthly job. Flip the quarter upside-down and insert it into a groove on your car’s tire. If none of the tread covers George Washington’s head, it’s time for new tires. It’s also a good idea to check the tread depth along the center, outer edge and inner edge, just to make sure that the tires are wearing down evenly.
 
Check the pressure
 
Improperly inflated tires will wear down faster, reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy and potentially become a safety hazard. To get a proper tire pressure reading, always check tire pressure when the tires are cool, not after you’ve been driving. With a tire pressure gauge, make sure your vehicle’s tires match the pressure recommendation found on the doorjamb or the owner’s manual. Perform a check at least once per month. In the meantime, you can also perform a cursory visual inspection to make sure that your car’s tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires will sag along the bottom, while overinflated ones will bulge in the middle.
 
Spotting wear and tear
 
Sometimes, you don’t need a special gauge to diagnose a tire problem. You may be able to notice some issues while you’re driving or by visually inspecting your vehicle. If your vehicle is pulling to one side, it can indicate a wheel alignment or tire inflation issue. Driving with an unusual vibration or thumping noise can indicate a tire with a flat spot or a separated belt. A visual inspection can help you spot worn-out tires, too. If they’re cracked, buckling or show a raised portion along the tread and sidewall, it’s time to have them replaced.
 
Regular rotation
 
Not all tires perform the same amount of work — depending on the specifics of your vehicle, you may see a disproportionate amount of wear on the front or rear tires. Regular tire rotation allows you to extend the lifespan of your tires, while also maximizing their performance. If you’d like to get the most out of your tires, have them rotated every 5,000-7,000 miles, or as directed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
 
Balancing for better driving
 
It’s easy to overlook tire balancing, but this routine service helps you minimize the amount of uneven wear that your tires experience. Whenever you have tires installed, they should also be balanced. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to have them balanced whenever you remove a tire, so schedule your car for a balancing if you’ve fixed a flat recently.

Alignment issues
 
With improperly aligned tires, your vehicle will suffer from decreased performance, suboptimal handling and lower efficiency. Tires should be aligned after every 12,000 miles, or as directed in the owner’s manual. They should also be aligned every time they’re replaced. Every model has unique alignment specifications, so bring your vehicle to the professionals for best results.
 
Properly maintained tires can make a world of difference for your driving experience. If you need a little help getting started, bring your vehicle to a dealership service center for expert advice.
 
This article is presented by North Park Lexus of San Antonio.

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