Well it’s still January (barely), and some of us have not given up on our New Year’s resolutions just yet. So before you do, try to add this to your resolution of keeping your car maintained…. "check” your tires. Which should be done once a month. Adding this to your regular routine can save you money by extending the life of your tires, keeping you safe by preventing accidents, and make your vehicle a smidge more “green” by improving gas mileage.
Sounds easy enough, right? What does checking your tires actually entail you might be thinking. Well, there are three main things to look at: the tire pressure (how much air is in the tire), how much tread is left (the ridges around the outside of the tire), and how even is the wear (the tire should wear evenly across the entire width). In general, your tire pressure affects all three areas.
Not too bad, is it? So let’s get down to business.
Check Your Tire Pressure
You will need to buy a tire pressure gauge for this step, but they are inexpensive and you should keep one in your glove box along with your owner’s manual. You can get a basic one at your local dollar store or even get a fancy digital one like this for less than $20.
To get the actual measurement of air in your tires (psi), you’ll need to unscrew the small cap on the valve stem sticking out of each tire. You’ll put the mouth of the pressure gauge on the end of the valve stem and push it in slightly until the end of the gauge pops out; once it pops out it will show you the psi number, or if you opt for the fancy digital gauge, it will display the number for you.
To see if your tires are under, over, or perfectly inflated you’ll need to know what the tire pressure should be for your vehicle. You can find this number on a sticker in the door jamb of the driver’s side door or in your owner’s manual (look for a number followed by “psi”). If it’s too low, you’ll want to add air. If it’s too high, you’ll want to deflate the tire to the correct psi. If it’s just right, you’re all done! If you don’t have a way to add air, you can take you vehicle to a gas station, tire shop, or to your auto repair shop of choice and they’ll be more than happy to help.
Check Your Tire Tread
For this step, you can purchase a tool to check the tread or you can just use a penny. I’ll just go ahead and give directions for the penny, since I know we can all find one pretty easily. This may be the easiest bit of routine preventative maintenance you can do. You’ll stick the penny in between the tread on your tire, with Lincoln’s head facing the tire. If part of his head is covered, you have enough tread left to safely drive. If you can seem most of his head, you’ll want to carefully head over to your local tire shop and see about getting a replacement tire(s).
Check Your Tire Wear
Ideally, you should have your tires rotated at equal intervals. For instance, if you have your oil changed every 5,000 miles, that is the perfect time to have your tires rotated as well. To check the wear on your tires, you’ll simply look at the tread wear on each tire. The tire should look flat or even across width of the tire. If it is rounded, or worn more on the left or right side, you may have an issue. It could mean your tires are under or over-inflated, or even overdue for a rotation. Here’s a handy pic to help you decide. If you’re worried about the tire, you can always take your vehicle to your local tire shop or auto repair shop and they will help you determine how to make your car safe.
You’re all done, that’s it. Now go enjoy the rest of your day and give yourself a pat on the back for being such a responsible car owner!
I’m more of a visual person, so if you are too, here is a short (1min) long video that covers ALL of this and will show you how to perform routine preventative maintenance on your tires like a pro!