Tires are an expensive investment! Shouldn’t you be doing all you can to protect your tires so they will deliver the longest service life? Wheel alignment and tire balancing are two recommended services that will absolutely improve tire performance and extend tire service life.
How Wheel Alignment Extends Tire Life
Sometimes referred to as “front end alignment” or “tire alignment”, wheel alignment service involves the adjustment of the angle of your vehicle’s wheels to the original position recommended by the manufacturer. Improper wheel or tire alignment can cause your tires to wear unevenly and prematurely.
Wheel alignment includes inspecting tire tread for signs of poor alignment as well as checking the toe, camber, and caster to precisely measure wheel orientation. Wheel alignment checks are typically recommended every 10,000 miles. You may need wheel alignment service before your recommended service time if you notice the vehicle pulling to one side, or if the vehicle has recently been in a collision.
How Tire Balancing Extends Tire Life
Tires lose balance as you drive, so periodic tire balancing service is needed to return proper balance. As the miles on your tires accumulate tread wear causes the distribution of weight around the tire to change, creating an imbalance. Unusual shaking or vibration as you drive can result from this imbalance. Out-of-balance tires are uneven and experience faster tread wear.
During tire balancing service, the technician will use a calibrated spin balancer, testing non-moving or static balance as well as moving or dynamic balance. Tires will be adjusted to the proper balance in accordance with the test results. Tire balancing is usually every 5-6,000 miles or 6 months.
Wheel alignment and tire balancing services are not expensive and do not take a lot of time to get done. It is well worth the effort to extend tire life and protect your tire investment.
Now is the time of year when legions potholes bring appearing everywhere. Not only do these annoying, and often cavernous craters jar you with a panic-inducing thud when you hit them, they can inflict some significant damage on your car.
While it may seem as though an army of gremlins equipped with pickaxes and jackhammers has launched a full scale assault on your neighborhood roadways, there is actually a more reasonable explanation for potholes. The pothole problem begins in the winter, when freezing and thawing cycles cause cracks in road surfaces to get larger and further degrade. The application of road salt can accelerate the damage because it creates more freezing and thawing stress while melting ice on the roadway. In the spring, heavy rains infiltrate the cracks and cause more deterioration.
Potholes are more than an annoyance. Hitting potholes can lead to serious vehicle component damage, typically to the shocks and struts, which control ride and handling. Shocks and struts dampen the bouncing action of the vehicle springs by regulating spring and suspension movement. They keep the car’s tires in contact with the road to facilitate proper steering, stability, and braking. Compromised shocks and struts can create a dangerous situation, so it is important to be aware of the signs that your shocks or struts may need to be replaced:
- Bottoming out or thumping on bumps
- Bouncing or sliding sideways on rough or winding roads
- Swaying or rolling on turns
- Front-end dives when braking or rear end dips when accelerating
- Loss of directional control during abrupt stops
- Noticeable puddles under the car or leaking fluids
Hitting potholes can also result in tire and wheel damage, engine and exhaust system issues, as well as suspension problems. Have your vehicle inspected if you experience any of the these types of issues. Addressing pothole damage issues early can prevent more extensive problems down the road.
Remember, it is really important to slow down and look out for potholes, especially at this time of year. When you see ones that are particularly bad, look up your local DOT or government website to see if you can report them. Crews are out repairing potholes, but they can only fix the ones they know about.
March is here, and while winter is still hanging on in some areas, warmer weather is definitely on the horizon! Now is the time to schedule your appointment to have your winter tires changed out for your normal driving tires.
An important part of winter tire maintenance that is often overlooked is proper tire storage. Storing your winter tires the right way will keep them looking great and performing well.
Tires should be stored in a clean, cool and dry place. Keep them away from sunlight and be sure they are not exposed to strong air currents. It is true that the rubber used to make tires is engineered to resist the effects of sunlight, ozone, and water, however these elements still cause wear. Seasonal storage time provides a great opportunity to minimize exposure to these stresses and give your tires a break.
When storing your winter tires, follow these guidelines and you should get years of safe service from them:
- Tires stored while mounted on rims should be inflated to 10 psi.
- Tires that are put in storage during warm weather should be inflated to about 15 psi to offset the pressure drop during cold weather months.
- Cover or wrap tires for storage. Many types of covers are available from auto parts retailers.
- If tires are mounted on rims, they should be stacked four deep underneath a tire cover.
- Tires should be stored upright and under a cover if they are mounted on rims, rather than stacked or suspended from the ceiling.
- Tires with whitewall or raised white lettering should be stored with the whitewall or raised white lettering facing each other to avoid black rubber staining.
- It is best not to store tires outside, but it is unavoidable, keep them raised off the storage surface.