Resolution to "check" your tires

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 Tire Pressure

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. 

Tire Wear

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! 

A New Year’s Resolution for Your Vehicle

Every year, we celebrate another year that’s come to an end (and that we managed to survived, whew!) and we start with a new list of resolutions we are going to accomplish for the coming year.   How about setting up a routine for your car maintenance?  Once you get in the habit, it’s very easy and in the long run it will keep you safe while saving you time and money.  It’s a win-win!

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Driving in the Oregon Rain

I love that we are finally transitioning into a classic Oregon fall with all this rain!  What I don’t like is getting my car ready to drive in the rain because I always wait until after the fact.  Luckily for me, and anyone else who happens to be a preventative maintenance (PM) procrastinator, it’s actually pretty easy. 

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First Women's Car Care Class

We had our first Women's Car Care Clinic this past weekend and we’re all here to tell the tale so I count that as a success! A big thank you to the ladies who made it, including Lisa at who was nice enough to snap these awesome pics!

We had a pretty fantastic spread, a stellar goody bag, and some really useful info to share.  For those who missed out, have no fear! We plan to host another class in the spring with our lead technician, Nate teaching again.  We covered everything from checking your fluids and belts to tips on buying your next used car with confidence.

We had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit about how to teach a class along right along with passing on some important maintenance tips. 

                                  Our lead technician Nate did a great job teaching the class!

                                  Our lead technician Nate did a great job teaching the class!

Can I save money each year by skipping some preventative maintenance?

True or False: I can save money every year by not having my car serviced as often as the manufacturer recommends.

False.   While it is possible to over maintain your car, like getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles no matter what, most people probably don’t fall into that category.  In fact, about 40% of us are putting off required maintenance.  Our cars are very expensive investments.  They are the second largest purchase we make in our lives and require continuous cost to maintain.   According to AAA, the average car cost 5₵ a mile for regular maintenance.  While spending money on your car doesn’t seem like a necessity, it should be.  

According to the Car Care Council, in 2004 poorly maintained vehicles caused accidents that resulted in $2 billion worth of damage.  I’m sure that number hasn’t been going down each year since.  In addition to safety, the upfront investment of maintaining your car is cheaper in the long run, extends the life of your car, and as an added bonus – if you keep a good record of maintenance history you’ll increase the resale value of your car as well.  

I’m a data person myself, I’m sure someone reading this is as well. Let me you give you some numbers so you can decide for yourself.  For example, the most important maintenance you can perform on your car is an oil change. If you drive a newer car, you probably only need to do this somewhere between 5,000 and 7,500 miles.   If you do this twice a year it would probably cost about $160.  What if you skip an oil change or maybe all of them for a year (it was a busy year for you), what happens then?   Did you just save $160?  Or did you accidentally seize the engine in your beloved car and now you have to shell out $4,500 to replace it?  What about brakes?   You can hear them squeaking, but don’t have the time to go replace your brake pads.  So you wait, and wait, and wait, until finally you take your car in to have it inspected.   Bad news, instead of spending $160 on brake pads, you’ve worn the rotors and now your bill is closer to $400. 

Now that I have you on the edge of your seat, I want to give you the good news.  There are ways to save money on car maintenance!  The most important thing is to read your Owner’s manual and follow the recommended maintenance. A lot of it depends on where you live and how you drive and many of the suggested services are minor inspections that you can perform yourself.   Not sure how?  Don’t worry because there are plenty of resources out there to help you.   We think it’s so important, that New Age Auto Repair will be teaching a short class on how to do the basics this fall!