Maybe not the most exciting subject, but certainly one of the most important. Because your ability to to start, stop and steer is only as good as the tires underneath you.
Money can’t buy love, but it can buy traction.
Invest in good tires. They’re probably the best way to upgrade your vehicle’s performance. Quality tires last long, ride smooth and provide solid traction.
Tires may all look the same, but they’re not. They come in a variety of sizes, constructions, tread designs, speed ratings and load-carrying abilities. Buy tires that are designed to perform best with your vehicle and the driving conditions you encounter. All-weather or all-season tires are usually the best choice.
Keep them fresh.
As tires wear, they lose traction—especially on wet roads where worn tires are more likely to hydroplane. Worn tires are also more likely to puncture, blow-out or skid.
Driving on worn tires isn’t just dangerous, it’s against the law, too. The State of Texas requires you to have a tire tread depth of at least 1/16th of an inch. While Texas law only requires 1/16th of an inch of tread, the laws governing traction suggest you replace tires with less than 1/8th of an inch of tread. Even half worn tires lose a significant amount of traction on wet roads. Traction is a good thing—get all you can.
Regularly check the tread depth of all your tires. Also look for bulges, cuts, sharp objects, slashes and uneven wear. Don’t put off replacing worn or damaged tires.
Keep them in line.
To do their job, tires need to be balanced and aligned correctly. As your vehicle’s suspension system wears, it can get out of balance.
Regularly have your tires balanced and rotated, shock absorbers inspected and suspension alignment checked.
Keep them properly inflated.
Properly inflated tires have more traction, last longer and are more fuel efficient than under or over inflated tires. Unfortunately, tires rarely stay the same pressure for long. They naturally lose air over time. Changing air temperatures also affects tire pressure. At least once a month, check that all four tires are inflated correctly.
Buy a tire pressure gauge and keep it in your vehicle. They only cost a couple bucks but can help you save hundreds by reducing fuel costs and extending the life of your tires.
How to find the proper inflation.
The tire inflation numbers listed on the sidewall of a tire are not the numbers you should use when inflating. Instead, find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. Look for a sticker on the doorjam of the driver’s side door or in the glove compartment. If it’s not there, check the owner’s manual.