October 29, 2014
How to Take Care of Your Used Car’s Wheels and Tires
Tires are one of the most important parts of any car, so it’s strange that we don’t often pay much attention to them. They’re the only part of your car that comes in contact with the road – your entire car literally rides on their performance. It’s important to routinely check your tires to make sure they’re in good shape and to take proper care of them. With this simple guide from The KEY, you’ll know exactly what to do.
The biggest thing that keeps your tires performing well is also one of the simplest. Tires must be filled with a certain amount of air in order to perform well. If they don’t have enough air in them, your tires can wear down much faster than normal, and they might also reduce your gas mileage and handling. Tires that are filled too much are no better – they don’t grip the road well and are more likely to blow out when you’re driving. Keeping your tires properly inflated will help your car drive better and will help the tires last as long as possible.
To check your tire pressure, you’ll need a tire pressure gauge. These simple devices are available at most auto parts stores as well as retailers like Walmart and Target for just a few dollars. To use the gauge, simply press the opening against the valve stem of your tire and let the pressure equalize. You’ll get a more accurate reading from your tires when they’re cool – if you’ve been driving your car recently, the air in the tires will be hotter and will artificially boost the pressure. Check the value on the gauge against the recommended value for your tires, which can usually be found on a sticker on the frame of the driver’s side door.
If your tire pressure is too low, drive to the gas station and put some air in them. Make sure you check your tires with the pressure gauge to avoid overfilling. If you have too much air in your tires, most pressure gauges have a small “bump” on one end that can be used to depress the valve stem, releasing air from the tires. Fill or deflate your tires the appropriate amount, and that’s it! Your job here is done.
Of course, watching the air pressure isn’t the only tire maintenance task you should perform. There are several other important things you should regularly do or check to make sure your tires are at peak capability.
Check Tire Wear
After thousands of miles of driving your tires will start to get worn down. The treads that grab the road and cut through water won’t be as effective, reducing your traction and making it harder to accelerate, steer, and stop. Worn-down tires are also more likely to go flat or blow out, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
Most all-weather tires have about the same amount of tread on them, and this makes it easy to check if your tires are too worn. Simply get a standard penny and stick it edge-first into the treads on your tires, with the Abraham Lincoln side facing towards you. Then, rotate the penny so his head is pointed straight down at the ground. If the grooves on your tire are deeper than the top of Lincoln’s head, you’re OK. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head when you place your penny in the groove, you should replace your tire.
Many tires also have “wear bars” that indicate if your tires are too worn down to be safe. These are raised pieces inside the deep grooves that run around your tire. If they look to be level with the rest of the tire, or they’re starting to be worn down by the road, your tires are worn out and should be replaced.
Rotate Your Tires
When you get your car’s oil changed, the mechanic will probably also ask you if you want a tire rotation. This doesn’t mean they test your tires to see if they rotate properly. It refers to the shop taking your tires and wheels off and putting them back on your car in a different place. In other words, your left rear tire might become your right front tire, and vice versa. Tire rotation is important for preventing tire wear, and it can help extend the life of your tires a great deal.
Why should you rotate your tires? If your wheels are even a tiny bit uneven, or if you drive a fairly static route (such as a commute) every day, your tires might start to wear down in slightly different ways. One tire might wear down more on one edge, for instance. If left alone, this will eventually ruin the tire and you’ll have to replace it.
Tire rotation can help fix this problem by letting each tire share the load in each position on the car. This ensures no one tire is in any one place for too long, keeping it from getting worn down more than the others. Most mechanics say you should rotate your tires at least once or twice a year, and more often if you drive a lot.
Alternately, you can also rotate your tires yourself, but you should only do this if you have the right equipment. You should never attempt to rotate your tires with the jack included in your car, as it isn’t meant to hold up more than one corner of the car at a time. Using improper equipment to rotate your tires could result in serious injury.
Replacing Your Tires
If you get a flat tire and need to replace it, or if your tires are getting too worn down, you can take your car to a variety of different tire shops or mechanics to get your tires replaced. Remember that it’s never a good idea to just buy a single tire, since it will be less worn than your other three and could change the handling of your car. You should always replace tires at least in pairs, and you should try to replace all four at once if you can afford it.
Tires are a big part of a car, but they’re hardly the only thing that can go wrong. If you’re having bigger problems with your car, it might be time to trade it in for a new ride at The KEY, Oklahoma City’s number one buy here pay here car dealer. We have a huge inventory of popular, late-model used cars for sale, so come down to our lot today and see what you’re approved for. And don’t worry if your credit isn’t perfect: we work with people with low and even no credit! Visit today, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information and updates.