Tires are one of the most expensive car components to replace, but driving with worn-out tires is not an option for both safety and legal reasons. New tires should have a tread depth of between 10/32 to 11/32 inches or 8 to 9 millimeters. As with many other car components, tires are subjected to rigorous daily wear and tear when driving. This results in the tread wearing down. There are also a host of other factors which, if overlooked, may contribute to faster tire wear down. Read on to learn how to make your tires last longer.
Is It Safe To Drive With Bald Tires?
The last thing you want to do is to drive with bald tires. Worn-down tires lack grip, increasing braking distances and impairing your control on the road. This can lead to your car skidding off the road or causing accidents. Other risks include tire punctures and major car damage if the tires blow out while driving.
The cost of tire replacement ranges between $50 and $200 each if you have an economy sedan. or around $300 for sports cars and SUVs. We have a buyer’s guide to the best car tires when it’s time to replace them, but it is definitely worth employing a few easy tactics to make sure that your tires last longer.
When To Replace Tires
Different types of tires last for different mileages or periods of time. But by law, they should be replaced when the tread has worn down to below 2/32 inches or 1.6 millimeters in depth.
What Are Common Symptoms of Worn-Out Tires?
Although it is very easy to see when your tires have reached the end of their life span by the shallow tread depth, the following signs are also good to look out for:
- Vibrations as you drive
- Blisters and bulges on the tires, regardless of age or tread depth
- Cracks in the sidewall, a condition known as “dry rotting” that happens to old tires
- Tread depth becomes level with the tread wear indicator
Keep in Mind
It is always advised to follow your car manufacturer’s guidance on the most suitable types of tires for your vehicle and the tire change mileage recommendation. You should also stick to the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure. You can find this information in your car’s manual.
Anytime you get new tires mounted the tire shop should balance them at the same time. It may also be worth considering a wheel alignment if you haven’t had one in a while, you know you’ve hit some big bumps recently, or your steering wheel isn’t centered when driving straight down the road.
How To Make Your Tires Last Longer
Check Your Tire Air Pressure Regularly
The correct tire pressure can go a long way in preserving the life span of your tires. Overinflation and underinflation may cause uneven tire wear and even a blowout. For instance, if your tires are overinflated, the center of the tire bulges out like a balloon and wears down more rapidly. On the other hand, underinflated tires are not able to adequately support the car’s weight and, therefore, wear down faster.
The environment and seasons will also have an impact on your tire pressure, with colder temperatures causing it to drop significantly. You should check your tire pressure at least once a month to ensure that they meet manufacturer recommendations, and adjust accordingly.
Rotate Your Tires Regularly
It is very good practice to rotate your car tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles as this will significantly prolong tire life. In addition to increasing your tire life by about 50%, tire rotation maintains safety and car performance and saves you a substantial amount of money on premature tire replacements. The great news is that a professional tire rotation won’t cost you more than $20 to $40.
You can also save money if you opt to do it yourself, which should take you no more than an hour. In this case, you will need a tire change tool kit and a jack.
Watch for Hazards When Driving
While there is not much we can do about potholes on roads, you should avoid driving directly over them because they can cause significant damage to your tires. It is also best to slow down if a pothole is unavoidable. Other road hazards to avoid include shattered glass, nails, sharp rocks, uneven pavement, and large curbs. Be especially vigilant when driving at night due to reduced visibility.
Get Your Tires Balanced
Wheel balancing is an adjustment made to any weight imbalance in your wheel and tire. When the wheel balance is out, your ride will feel shaky and uneven. To detect imbalance, professionals place the wheel into a special balancing machine that spins the wheel at high speeds to determine where the imbalances are. Small weights are then mounted to the wheel to even out the weight distribution. This is normally done when the new tire is mounted to the wheel, but harsh bumps can occasionally knock these weights off the wheel, making it unbalanced.
Check Your Wheel Alignment Every 6 Months
Wheel alignment refers to the angle of your wheels in relation to each other and your car, making it critical to tire longevity. Professionals use highly sophisticated equipment to adjust your car’s suspension to ensure proper wheel alignment. Good wheel alignment also promotes better gas mileage and requires no part replacement, just labor costs. The average cost of wheel alignment for most cars ranges between $50 and $100 for two wheels and up to $200 for all four. Since wheel alignment is considered general maintenance, most insurance policies unfortunately won’t cover the cost.
Still Need Help?
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At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.