Checking and Maintaining Your Tires

Here are a few easy tips to keep your car moving smoothly.

The lifespan of your tires quickly depreciates if they aren’t properly maintained. A new tire, on average, costs about $120 dollars. Tires that aren’t properly inflated can be a huge liability or threat on the road because they tend to become distorted and have the potential of blowing out.

In addition to being hazardous, underinflated tires waste gas. The MTO estimates that 22,730,460 liters of fuel per day are wasted due to low tire pressure. That’s more than 9,092,184 liters per year in wasted money and energy.

There’s an old trick to quickly checking the tread thickness on your tire. Once a month, or before embarking on a long road trip, check your tires for wear and damage problems. An easy way to check for wear is by using the quarter test. Just grab a Canadian quarter and follow these 3 easy steps:

Hold the quarter between your thumb and forefinger with the quarter head facing down.

Select a point on your tire where tread appears the lowest and insert the figurehead first into one of the grooves.

If the top of the figurehead is covered by tread, you're driving with the legal and safe amount of tread. If your tread gets below that, your car's ability to grip the road in adverse conditions is greatly reduced.

Checking Your Tire Pressure

Determine the proper tire pressure for your vehicle. Tire pressure is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). The PSI required is determined by the weight of vehicle, its design, and the specific tire dimensions recommended by the manufacturer. The tire pressure information is usually located on a sticker in the doorjamb, on the driver’s side of the vehicle. The tire specifications are also recorded in your vehicle’s operational manual. Note: It is not uncommon for the front and rear tires to have different recommended PSI levels.

To begin, allow your car to cool down for half of an hour. Check the pressure when the tires are cold. The internal temperature of the tire increases when you use your vehicle.

Press the PSI tire gauge onto the valve stem. You will hear a slight hissing when the gauge makes contact with the valve stem. Once secure contact has been made, you should have an accurate recording of your tire pressure.

Compare the recorded PSI to the recommended PSI level. If there’s a big difference between the two, you will need add air to your tires.

For every 3 units of PSI below recommendation, your vehicle consumes 1 percent more fuel and incurs about 10 percent more tread wear. If left uninspected, it’s not uncommon for a driver to find their tires 10 PSI below the manufacturer’s recommendation – translating to about 3 percent fuel waste during operation and, more importantly, a 45 percent increase in tread wear.

Properly Maintaining Your Tires

Rotate your tires on a regular basis. Your tires must be rotated every 6,000 miles. Keeping an accurate record of your tire rotation is the easiest and most reliable way of maintaining the quality of your tires. Consistent tire rotation ensures the weight of the vehicle is evenly distributed. Weight distribution is hugely important. If your vehicle is leaning unevenly to one side, all of the tires will be affected adversely.

Ensure your tires are correctly aligned. If your tires aren’t aligned, they’ll quickly wear down and develop distortions, rapid wear in the affected areas, and eventually blow out.

The biggest indicator of tire misalignment is vehicle drifting or slanting toward one direction. If your car is handling poorly during turning, this is an indicator of tire misalignment.

Following these simple steps will help you maintain the quality of your tires and extend their lifetime. The condition of your tires affects your personal safety on the road – braking, handling in the inclement weather, and potential tire blow outs are serious safety risks. Remember: for the average person, the most dangerous thing they do over the course of day is getting in the driver’s seat.