Just about the only thing our cars all have in common is the fact that every one has tires. While the technology has evolved over the years from tires with inner tubes to bias-ply tubeless to radials to run-flat radials, the fundamental facts remain the same. The relatively small area of the tire tread that touches the road - called the contact patch - is all that stands between your car's rims and the street. These four contact patches are individually only about the size of the average man's hand. Your vehicle's acceleration, braking and turning all depend on these four small scraps of rubber so it's in your best interest and the interest of those who ride with and around you to regularly perform some very basic preventive maintenance.
Here are ten tips from Pirelli - one of the most famous tire manufacturers in the world:
Ten Commandments for Preventive Maintenance
Performance and driving safety are two key elements for Pirelli, that’s why we would like to share with you some small actions that will help you drive in peace of mind and safety.
- Pressures should be periodically checked on cold tires (be sure to check the spare, your car has one).
- Never "bleed" or reduce air pressure when your tires are hot from driving, as it is normal for pressure to increase above recommended cold pressures due to friction from the road.
- Tires must be replaced when worn to the tread wear indicators, even if the wear shows only in one part of the tread.
- Check periodically for unusual wear or tread damage - especially following impacts with curbs of pot holes.
- Have your tires balanced periodically by a reputable tire dealer - especially when you feel any vibration through the steering wheel. "Spin" balancing is the most accurate method!
- When impacts or punctures occur, have a check carried out on the inside of the tire as sidewall damage could be hidden. A damaged sidewall could fail and cause a catastrophic failure called a "blowout".
- Never park over patches of oil, solvents, etc., as these chemicals will caused tire damage
- When buying new tires, comply with the sidewall speed rating and load index as defined by your vehicle's manufacturer (these specifications can be found in your vehicle's owners manual).
- Winter or studded tires must fitted in complete sets - just installing them on the drive wheels is unsafe.
- Driving style and speed directly affect tire life. The faster you drive around corners and the harder you brake will adversely affect tire life.
- When you get your car serviced - e.g., for an oil change - ask the technician to check the condition of your tires and rims. The tech should look for nails, cracks in the rim, sidewall damage and low tire pressure.
- Run Flat tires require a "Tire Pressure Monitoring" system. If your car has them, make sure it is functioning properly and that your tires are correctly inflated at all times. Should any of your Run Flat tires lose air, you can only safely drive about 50 miles on the damaged tire before it will fail completely.