Tire Maintenance 101
There are few things in life less exciting than having to spend hard-earned savings on a new set of tires. In fact, we can think of hundreds of other things we'd rather spend money on, instead of a few pieces of rubber that we never think about until it's time to replace them. But, if we follow a few easy guidelines, the path to getting the most out of our car tires is paved with...well, smooth ashphalt that won't eat into our MPG (miles per gallon).
Step 1: Know What the Standards Are
New tires--whether they've been installed on an assembly line, or purchased directly from a tire manufacturer--have certain markers that influence just how much you'll be able to make your car tires last. One of the first things to check for is what type of weather conditions your tires excel in. Are they all-season tires, or are they specific to winter or summer? All-season tires have been created with the common driver in mind, and typically last longer than summer tires, which have been specifically designed for performance cars and performance handling. Unless you're driving a performance car, there's really no reason to buy summer tires, and having all-season tires will help stretch your tire budget since they last longer, too.
Step 2: Check Tire Speed Ratings
Also, tires come with "speed ratings" that indicate the top speed levels at which it is safe to operate your vehicle. While these levels seem high (the highest rated tires can come with a rating of nearly 200mph), they aren't just a marketing ploy to get you to purchase more expensive rubber. Pay attention to the speed rating that your car's original tires came with, and cross reference them with speeds you're used to driving; if your tires are rated much higher than even your closest top speed, you may be able to get away with purchasing a lower speed-rated set--just be sure they still fit your car.
Making sure you get tires that fit your vehicle, and are speed rated for your car and your driving speed, can help you save when it does come time to purchase replacements.
Step 3: Get Those Tires Rotated
The longer you drive, the more your tires wear down in the same places. In fact, think of tires as feet: the longer you walk a certain way (inside of your foot, outside of your foot, more on the heels, etc.), the more your shoes get worn out in corresponding places. Car tires are no different, but making sure that you keep your tires rotated every 6,000-8,000 miles ensures that you're not wearing certain parts down more than others, and that your tires will wear down at the same pace over time. If tires aren't worn down at the same pace, you risk needing to replace only one or two tires, which is never a good position to find yourself in.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself...('s Tires)
In the same way that tire manufactures take into consideration how fast you may occasionally drive, making sure that you stay within the boundaries of speeding limits, and avoiding "peeling" out of driveways, parking lots, or turning lanes, can go a long way to making your tires last.
It's the small things that add up :)
Consider Longer Mileage Rating
Tires are made to last tens of thousands of miles, and it's not uncommon to never have to replace your tires (especially if you lease a car, and stay under your restricted mileage). If, and when, you have to replace your tires, consider how many more years, and how many more miles, you plan to put on them. If your car is just for small commutes, and you don't take long trips, then you can probably spend a little less by buying replacement tires that last 45,000-50,000 miles, instead of more expensive replacements that can last over 75,000 miles.
Find a Penny--Stick It In Your Tires
Lastly, "the penny test" is still a great way to judge how you can best make your car tires last. This tried-and-true method involves taking a penny and placing it inside your tire's grooves. If President Lincoln's head meets the top of the tread, it's time to start thinking about getting new tires. If the tire covers up more than his face, you have a little more time to save up. Here's a great primer (images and video included) on the penny test from Bridgestone Tires.
Get Your Tires Rotated & Inspected
If you live in the Central Wisconsin region, we're more than happy to help you maintain the life of your tires, or help you find great replacements. For simple tire rotation check out our Quick Lube station in Adams, Wisconsin, and for full tire care, check out our Goodyear shop in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.