Before you know it, it’s going to be time for turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and green beans, cranky relatives…and quite possibly a few hours’ worth of driving to get there. Are your tires up to the trip? Here are a few things you might want to have a look at:
- Tread Depth: The minimum tread depth for tires is 2/32”, or 1.5 mm…tires that are at that tread depth are significantly worn, with compromised traction, ride and handling and are in need of replacement. You can use a tire tread depth gauge, but failing that, here’s a very easy way to get that measurement. Take a penny and insert into a tread groove, with the Queen’s head down. If you can see any part of the Queen’s head, it’s time for new tires. At 3/32” to 4/32,” you should consider replacing the tires. At 5/32”, your tires are most likely safe but wet-weather traction may be compromised. Anything deeper than 6/32” is a safe margin for tread depth.
If that’s confusing, here’s one sure-fire sign you need to replace your tires: the tread-wear indicator bars. These bars are molded into the rubber at the base of the tread grooves, at a right angle. If you can see the tread-wear indicators, it is unquestionably time for new tires!
- Inflation: It’s easy to not give much thought to proper inflation of your tires, but even new tires in great condition will lose about 1 psi of air pressure per month. Underinflated tires will handle poorly, wear prematurely and overheat. The added rolling resistance also hurts fuel economy, and the heat generated can break down a tire’s internal structure and cause it to fail. Look in your owner’s manual or on a sticker that’s typically located on the fuel filler door, door frame or under the hood to find the proper inflation pressures. Use a quality tire gauge and check the tires when they are still cold – air expands when heated, and hot tires will show high air pressure readings. Check your inflation levels once a month!
- Rotation: No vehicle has 50/50 weight distribution between front and rear, and the front tires of any vehicle are subjected to different stresses due to braking forces and cornering. Switching the positions of tires ensures that they’ll wear evenly. Rotations should be performed every 8,000-11,000 km; it’s easy to remember by just scheduling a rotation with every oil change, since the vehicle’s going to be up off the ground anyway. You’ll notice an immediate difference in ride, handling and drivability after a tire rotation.
- Balancing: Even a slight difference in weight distribution on a wheel and tire can cause an annoying vibration, either at highway speed, a certain speed range or all speeds. The balance of tires can shift as they age and the tire goes ever-so-slightly out of round. While you’re having the tires rotated, it’s common to have them balanced as well.
- Wheel Alignment: Get a look at your front tires. Do you see a strip along the inside or outside edge of a tire that’s worn unevenly from the rest of the tire? Chances are you’ve got a wheel alignment problem. One tire is skewed out to one side, pointed inward or tilted to an incorrect angle. A wheel alignment will not only prevent uneven tire wear but will improve your vehicle’s handling and drivability immediately.
- Spare Tire: It’s easy to not ever give any thought to the spare tire…and there are few things more aggravating than having a flat tire only to find out that the spare is flat as well. In addition, tires have a shelf life, and the spare on an older car can sit in the trunk and develop cracks and dry-rot even if it’s never been on the ground. Get a look at the spare too!
So, does everything check out for your Thanksgiving road trip? Great! If not, make an appointment with The Tire Terminal in Mississauga, ON and let us check things over.