But in the quest to preserve your tires, how do you know which tips are true and which ones are bogus? A lot of the advice people give could actually reduce the life of your tires, costing you more time and money.
To help you get a grip, here are eight of the biggest tire myths deflated. Get the real story so you can make sure your tires go the distance.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Does All the Work
Because tire pressure monitoring systems have only become a standard safety feature in cars during the last decade, not many people understand exactly how they work. A common assumption is that they constantly measure your tire pressure and let you know if it has fallen below the acceptable level.
However, the system is actually designed to give you a heads up when there is an imminent problem, such as an almost-flat tire. That’s why it’s so important that you regularly check your tire pressure yourself so you don’t end up in a bad situation.
Keep a gauge handy and check your pressure levels at least once a month. Investing in a small air compressor is also a smart idea. Then you can top off your tires right at home.
The Best Pressure Is Listed on the Tire
The air pressure number that you find on the side of your tire actually indicates the maximum amount of air the tire can handle. For that reason, you should refer to your car if you’re trying to figure out what the best pressure is.
Most of the time, you can find the recommended pressure listed on a sticker just inside the door. If it doesn’t jump out at you, you can always refer to your owner’s manual as well.
New Tires Go on the Front
If you’re only replacing two tires, it seems like it makes sense to put the new ones on the front so you’ve got the most pull working for you. Unfortunately that theory is just plain wrong. If you put tons of nice new tread in the front and leave the worn down rubber in the back, your rear end will be slipping all over the place.
For instance, if it rains while you’re on the road, the front tires will efficiently let the water pass through their tread, sending it directly to the back. With all that water, the rear tires won’t be able to maintain contact with the road, and you’ll quickly find yourself hydroplaning.
If you don’t have the money to replace all four tires, always put the two new ones on the back because you’ll have much better control over your vehicle.
Budget-Brand Tires are the Same as Big-Name Tires
Tires are like anything else. You can spend less, but the quality is probably not going to be as good. Most big-name tire producers have offshoot companies that make super affordable products.
Though they’ll get you from point A to point B, they won’t help your car perform its best, and they probably won’t last all that long. It feels like an overwhelming expense when you have to replace your tires because it’s not something you pay for regularly, and it costs a fair amount.
But buying new rubber is not the place to scrimp. If you have the money available, it’s absolutely worth investing in a higher end product. You’ll feel the difference when you drive, and you probably won’t be faced with needing new tires again for several years.
It Doesn’t Matter if My Alignment Is Off
Oh boy…alignment is something that a lot of people let go when they really should get it corrected. In addition to the incredibly annoying pull of your steering wheel, leaving your car misaligned has several other negative side effects.
First of all, it will cause your tires to wear faster and unevenly. Because your vehicle is being pulled in one direction or another, the tires are also being yanked. They may be riding on a particular edge or wall, causing damage rapidly. The other major disadvantage of driving with your alignment off is that you will spend a lot more on gas. Improper alignment definitely messes with your fuel-efficiency and drains the tank faster.
So if you’ve noticed that your car is tugging in one direction, head on down to the shop. You’ll be glad you did later.
All-Season Tires Are Just as Good As Snow Tires
Any time you can save money, it’s a good feeling. But there are some times when saving just isn’t the way to go.
A lot of people who live in areas that get really cold and snowy try to rock their all-seasons year round, and that can cause major problems. All-seasons are great for three quarters of the year, but if you’re driving in low temperatures and nasty weather, winter tires are the only way to go.
Their supple rubber allows them to perform in freezing temperatures without becoming brittle and cracking. And their enhanced tread makes driving in the slush and snow much safer.
On top of that, switching to winter tires prevents a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on your all-seasons. By alternating between the two sets, you extend the life of both and end up spending less in the long run.
Tire Rotation Isn’t that Important
Again with the trying to scrimp. Tires definitely need to be rotated, maybe not with every oil change, but at least with every other.
By rotating the tires, you prevent uneven wear and preserve the integrity of the rubber for longer. If left in the same positions, tires will start to deteriorate in specific areas because of the way they’re making contact with the road.
So ask for a rotation next time you hit the service station, and give your tires a break.
I Can Overinflate to Carry More Weight
In theory, the more pressure in a tire, the more weight it can carry. Yikes, this thinking can lead to a lot of problems. A car with overinflated tires will not handle properly, and its traction will also be decreased. For safety reasons, it should be avoided.
Overinflated tires will also wear more quickly, and the deterioration will be focused in the center. If you start to notice that the inner part of your tire’s tread is going bald, it’s likely that the pressure is too high.