Regular tire maintenance is important to avoid flats, prevent uneven tread wear and to get the best possible gas mileage. With a little bit of knowledge, tires are very easy to maintain and monitor.
A few things to look out for:
- Are your tires visibly under-inflated?
- Are they bald or losing tread?
- Is the tread unevenly worn?
If you see these symptoms, take your car to the mechanic right away and get your tire problems fixed. If you have new tires, keep an eye on them to head-off any potential issues. In fact, a professional can perform the most basic checks at the same time your car goes in for an oil change.
Oil changes are recommended every 3,000 miles or approximately every four months. When you take your car in, you may be able to get a package deal that includes a check of your tires and other parts of the car. It is worth the extra money to get your tires inspected, especially if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. The experts can quickly determine your tire condition.
What does the mechanic look for during these 3,000-mile tire inspections?
- Tire pressure
- Tread wear
- Tread depth
Tire pressure is the simplest to check and fix. Low tires simply require extra air. The mechanic checks your tire to discover the optimal air pressure and fills it accordingly.
New Tires vs. Old Tires
If your tires are new, they will have deep treads that have yet to erode by frequent driving. If your tires are old, the grooves in the treads will be shallow. Shallow grooves mean less traction on wet pavement and icy roads.
Your mechanic will also look at the tires to see if the treads are wearing evenly. If not, your car may need an alignment.
- When your alignment is off, it forces you to steer a bit to the left or to the right to keep the vehicle moving in a straight line.
- Bad alignment can stress the suspension system and cause tires to wear out prematurely.
- Uneven tread wear is an indication that the alignment needs adjusting.
Uneven tire wear does not automatically mean an alignment is needed. Sometimes your tires simply require rotation. Rotating tires ensures even tread wear and prolongs the life of the tires. Have your tires rotated every 6,000 miles for optimal performance.
While the mechanic inspects your car, the tires also get a once-over glance. The mechanic checks:
- There are no foreign objects stuck in the treads.
- Nails are one of the most common items stuck in the treads. You might not even realize you have a punctured tire, because a nail creates a slow leak.
- Your mechanic should be able to spot a nail and repair it. This is done by simply installing a patch on the tire and re-inflating it.
When Should Tires Be Inspected?
Tires can be inspected anytime you take the car into the shop, but you should check the tire pressure yourself, especially when the weather changes. As the temperature drops, your tires lose pressure. For every 10 degrees of temperature change, your tires lose one pound per square inch of pressure. This is why a trip to the mechanic can be helpful just as the winter weather begins; you get the rest of your vehicle ready for the season and get your tires checked and re-inflated to their proper pressure before the coldest temperatures hit.
Scheduled maintenance for most cars happens at these markers:
- 3,000 miles
- 6,000 miles
- 15,000 miles
- 30,000 miles
- 60,000 miles
- 75,000 miles
Your tires can be checked every time the car goes into the shop for these visits, or more frequently when you go for oil changes. All these inspections mean a much safer ride for you and your family. The peace of mind you get from driving with safe tires is worth the time investment.