Simple Ways on How to Make Car Tires Last Longer and Perform Better
Car tires are expensive, and replacing them every few years is costly. But tire treads wear down over time, and eventually they will need replacement. Why not take care of your tires to ensure the longevity of the rubber and tire life.
Statistics show that the average American drives about 12,000 per year per the data from the The United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Most tire manufacturers tout between 25k - 60k miles depending on the style and rubber compound.
Tires with worn treads aren't safe, and they won't perform as well as new ones. In fact, they may even cause accidents because drivers lose control of the vehicle.
In order to ensure you are able to maximize the lifespan of your tires, we will review the top three ways to have longer lasting tires.
First, let's cover the basics...
Why Tires Are So Important
Improving your car's ride isn't limited to changing the suspension and wheels. You can also make sure that your tires are performing optimally. One way to ensure that your tires remain safe and reliable is to maintain optimal inflation of your tire pressure. By following these simple steps, you can increase the lifespan of your tires while ensuring that they're providing the best possible traction and braking power.
Tires that are properly inflated provide the best performance and fuel efficiency. This helps ensure that your car maintains proper balance while driving.
Tip #1: Check Your Tire Air Pressure
Tire air pressure affects safety. It's good practice to check your tire pressure at least once a month. This is especially true as the seasons change and the temperature drops or increases. A low tire pressure reading could cause you to prematurely wear one side of your tire more quickly. In extreme cases, low tire pressure can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Secondly, if you don't check your tires frequently enough, it could lead to sidewall damage or ever worse like a blowout.
Underinflated tires will provide a softer ride but you will lose fuel efficiency if the pressure is too low. If your PSI is around 24-26 PSI, your tires are most likely under inflated.
The best way to check your tire pressure is to use a gauge. You can buy one online or at most auto parts stores. They come in both analog or digital. I prefer analog since there are no batteries and you can easily store them in your glovebox.
Tip # 2: Rotate Your Tires Once a Year
Tip number two is to rotate your tires. Tires are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. They keep your car safe and provide traction on the road. If you don’t rotate your tires frequently enough, they could wear down prematurely and cause problems like uneven tread depth, excessive heat buildup, and even blowouts. Rotating your tires helps ensure that they remain in good shape throughout the life of your vehicle.
Common Tire Rotation Patterns
There are different methods of rotating your tires. Some exchange side to side while others swap tires from front to back. If you have a front wheel drive vehicle, then you can swap front directly to the back and then cross the rear tires to the opposite side.
For example, the rear driver's side will be moved by the front passenger and vice versa.
For rear wheel drive cars or AWD drive vehicles, you will move the rear to the front, then cross the front to the rears. So you will be moving the rear tires to the front directly and the front to the rear in a cross pattern.
You should rotate your tires at around 5,000 to 6,000 miles. This will help ensure the tires are worn evenly. If they show signs of wear, then you might want to check your alignment. You might have worn bushings or ball joints.
What is the Average Cost to Rotate Tires?
If you need assistance rotating your tires, you can head to your local tire shop to assist you. The average cost to rotate each tire ranges from $10 - $35 per tire. If you purchased your tires at Costco, for example, the company offers free tire rotations with the purchase of tires.
Estimate that you will spend about $50 for a full tire rotation. This is not for balancing but for rotating the tires only. If you have to balance them, then you will be most likely paying $35 per tire for a total of $140 plus tax.
If you plan to rotate the tires yourself, it is a pretty simple process. Some pro tips are to use a torque wrench to avoid over torquing your jug nuts. Secondly, you will want to make sure that you use the proper safety gear and jack stands. OEM jacks are notorious for failing if not used properly.
What about Tire Damage?
If you notice signs of damage such as cracks or bulges, take your vehicle to a professional mechanic immediately. These cannot be repairs and your tire should be replaced as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might experience serious injury or accident if you continue driving without fixing the problem.
Tip #3: Monitor Your Alignment
Alignment is adjusting the angles on your vehicle’s wheels. This is important because it affects how well you steer your car. If your front wheels aren’t aligned correctly, you might experience steering problems.
Some of the most common tell-tale signs that you need an alignment:
- Uneven tire wear
- Steering wheel is not centered when driving down the road
- The vehicle pulls left or right when going straight.
Hitting potholes and manhole covers can knock your alignment off. Typically alignments can cost between $80 - $200, depending on the shop. Firestone tire centers offer lifetime alignments but it can be hit or miss. Be sure to check out the Google reviews on what customers have to say.
Bonus Tip: Drive Gently, Don't Accelerate Fast or Do Burnouts
The faster you accelerate and decelerate, the shorter the treadlife of your tires. Also, driving over gravel causes tire wear much quicker than asphalt. Avoid hard accelerations and don't peel out.
While you might enjoy the thrill of getting pushed back into your seat, the rubber of the tires will definitely lose more thread while you are trying to hit 0-60mph in under 4 secs.
When You Should to Replace Tires
How often should you change your tires? This is a very common question. Most car manufacturers recommend replacing them every 50,000 miles or 48-60 months in tire life.
Check your tire tread before buying replacement tires. Tread depth refers to the amount of contact area between the tire and road surface. Most tires start with 10/32 tread and are considered fully worn when they reach 3/32 tire life. A properly maintained vehicle should have about half of the tread left. You can find information about the recommended tread life of each tire type here.
Summer Tires and Winter Tires
Summer tires and winter tires are seasonal tires. You should look to swap them out as temperatures drop. A good rule of thumb is if the ambient temperature drops to 40 degree Fahrenheit, then you should switch from summer tires to all-season or winter tires.
Here in NJ, I typically see this in October through February. Every location is different so determine what works best for you.
Are there any special dressings or coatings that make a tire last longer?
There are no tire dressings that will make the rubber last longer but there are dressings that offer UV protection to the sidewall of the tire. 303 Tire Protectant is a good option and is very popular in the auto detailing community. I have used it and it dries to a matte finish. It is a natural finish that is water-based.
All other dressings will make your tires shine and glossy for a detailed look. However, it will not penetrate inside the rubber to make them last longer. Actually, driving the car will help ensure the tires last longer by allowing the oils in the compound to work its way throughout the tire. If the tire is not used, then the tires can dry out and end up dry rotting.
Here are my favorite tire dressings:
- 303 Protectant
- Meguiar's Hot Shine Foam
- Cristal Products - Untouchable Wet Tire Finish
For best performance, you will want to clean and dry your tires well. Apply the dressing and wait 30 mins for it to dry to avoid slinging on the body panels.
Final Thoughts on Longer Lasting Tires
In conclusion, tires aren't cheap. But if you want to keep your car going strong for years to come, you need to know how to care for its rubber parts properly. In fact, tire manufacturers recommend that you replace your tires every seven years or less. But if you follow these simple steps, you'll be able to keep your car rolling smoothly for years to come.
First, check your tire pressure regularly. This is especially true during cold weather months, since low pressures can cause your tires to wear faster than normal.
Second, avoid driving aggressively over bumps or uneven roads.
Third, check your alignment to make sure your tires are wearing out evenly.
Finally, rotate your tires every six months. These three steps alone will help extend the life of your tires, saving you hundreds of dollars in replacement costs.