When to rotate? When to replace? Oh, the pressure!
All I know is that there are 4 of them, they are black, and they are made out of rubber. Some people say I need to “rotate” them; I feel like they rotate themselves when I am driving. Sometimes in the winter, the tire light comes on. If this sounds like you, then you are like many other people. What’s crazy to think about is that tires are the only contact point between us and the road! One could argue that they are more important to your safety than anything else on your vehicle! With tires being so important to your vehicle’s safety, it is beneficial to understand these 5 key factors.
When it comes to knowing when a tire is worn out, there is a simple way to tell and I will show you how you can check your own tires right now. See, in the image below, how there are wear indicators built into the tread pattern? Run your fingers in the tread of your tires to feel for these “wear indicator bars”. When your tread wears down and meets up with these bars, this is when you have used up the tire to it’s full life expectancy. If your tire tread meets these bars, then your tire is at the minimum legal limit. A good time to replace your tires is between 4/32nds to 3/32nds of an inch of tread remaining. This ensures that you have the tread you need to be safe, even when it rains or snows. Speaking of precipitation, our tires need to have enough tread to expel or push out the rain or the slush as the tire is driving over it. Sometimes, roads can be very slippery and scary if we don’t have enough tread.
Ok, we talked a little about tire tread, now let’s talk about tire pressure. This is the amount of air that our tires are inflated to. You may have heard of the term “PSI”. This stands for Pounds Per Square Inch. Your vehicle manufacturer will have the recommended tire PSI sticker (Tire and Loading Information) on the door frame of your driver’s front door. This sticker or tag will also have the correct tire size(s) on it as well. The tire manufacturer will have a maximum tire pressure on the tire sidewall, however, make sure you go by the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation for proper inflation and proper usage instead. T.P.M.S. stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This system is a nuisance for some people because the warning light doesn’t seem to stay off. If you have the proper air pressure in each tire and the light is still on, then the system might need to be reset or a sensor may need to be replaced.
Fun fact: Did you know that each tire pressure sensor has an internal non-replaceable battery? The idea of the tire light and the TPMS system is to be able to warn you if a tire is low while you are driving so you can pull over before it’s too late or before the tire gets damaged.
Tire Information Tag
Tire Pressure Light
How Often Do I Need To Rotate My Tires?
A tire rotation service is important and necessary to help make your tires last longer. This goes back to the tread wear conversation. When a standard passenger car tire is new, it has approximately 10/32nds of usable tread on it. Since you are a tread wear professional by now, you understand that a tire must be replaced before it wears down to 2/32nds. Great, so why should I get my tires rotated? They handle the road just fine and I don’t feel like paying to have them rotated. My answer to that question is this. Do you want to replace your tires before you absolutely have to? If you want them to last longer, you should rotate them from the front to the rear. The most common way of rotating tires is to move them front to rear on the same side. Sometimes tires are rotated in an “X” pattern. It depends on the type of tread that you have and how they are wearing. A rule of thumb is to have your tires rotated every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. This usually times out great with getting an oil change - So every other oil change, you should rotate your tires.
Do I Need to do an alignment when I get new tires? What is a tire alignment?
The short answer is, yes. If your alignment is out of specification, you will end up wearing your new tires out unevenly; which means you will have to replace one or more tires prematurely. Alignment is all about the angles that the tires are rotating at. Are they tilted back too far? Are they tilted inward too far? Sometimes you can obviously see that a tire is tilted in or out, but sometimes you can’t. Is the steering wheel off center even when you are going straight? These are all signs of improper alignment. Bring your vehicle in to see if you need an alignment or to see if a steering or suspension part has become worn out. At Victory Auto Service, we suggest having your alignment checked at least once per year or even twice. We have all experienced driving over a pothole or a large dip or bump in the road at some point. These are the absolute worst for knocking the alignment out of specification, which will in turn, ruin your tires!
If you have any questions about tires or the best way to care for them, talk to a technician you trust or give our team a call here at Victory Auto Service & Glass.