Tires aren’t so expensive. It’s true! They cost less than a penny per mile. Compare that to gas, which costs roughly 15 cents per mile. Still, you should take care of your tires. You’ll improve your safety and save money (since your tires will last longer). Here are seven easy tire care tips every driver auto know.

1. Pay attention.

Most car breakdowns and traffic accidents are caused by one thing: a lack of focus.

Car problems don’t show up out of nowhere. They’re typically preceded by symptoms that reflect something is going wrong. That could be an unusual smell or troubling noise.

The same fact applies to problems with your tires. Are you aware of the inflation they require? Do you know how to check (and adjust) tire pressure? If not, what are you waiting for?

You also need to concentrate when you’re driving. Little things like running into potholes, hitting speed bumps at high speeds, and driving over a curb can add up to a big (and bad) impact over time.

2. Emphasize prevention.

Preventing car problems is a WHOLE lot cheaper than repairing them. I’ve been running an auto shop for a decade now, so believe me… I know!

Don’t accept the mindset of, “I’ll deal with car problems whenever they arise.” It’s better to tell yourself, “I’ll do everything in my power to prevent car problems from happening at all.”

What driving mistakes could have a negative effect on your tires? We already discussed a bunch of them. Look out for those situations. In general, be on high alert when you’re in an unfamiliar area. It’s easier to avoid nails, curbs, potholes, and all that stuff when you focus.

3. Learn how to check tire pressure.

Having under-inflated tires triples your risk of having a wreck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Heat speeds up this process, so be cautious in summer! Don’t know how to check your tire pressure? I’ll let Edmunds show you the way. 

4. Have your tires rotated at every other oil change.

Note: This guideline is for people who get an oil change every 3,000 miles or so. If you’re using a synthetic oil that allows less frequent oil changes, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

The owner’s manual for your vehicle will tell you exactly how often to get your tires rotated. The manufacturer of your vehicle knows best, so I suggest following their recommendations.

Tire rotations are important, because they extend the life of your tires. Every tire doesn’t carry the same amount of weight. It’s like a job. Every employee doesn’t carry the same workload. Some people excel. Others slack off. Others fall somewhere in the middle.

The same is true for your tires. Their position affects the amount of stress they handle when you’re driving. If you never rotated your tires – moved them from to the front, to the rear, and vice versa – some of them would wear out sooner than others. That’s no good, because it’s best to have a set of four matching tires (versus replacing one or two at a time).

5. Get your wheel alignment checked at least annually.

Tire rotations balance out tread wear. Wheel alignments keep you on a straight, narrow path.

It’s really easy to know when your alignment is messed up. On a straight section of the road (and when no other cars are around!), take your hands off the steering wheel for a second.

Did your car stay straight, or did it swerve in either direction? If your car tried to steer itself to the left or right, that means your wheels need to be aligned. Visit an auto repair shop soon!

If your wheels are misaligned for a long time, this can cause your tires to wear unevenly, and you’ll have to replace them sooner than necessary. Get your alignment checked every year (and when you’re investing in a new set of tires).

6. Check your tire wear monthly and before long trips.

The penny test is a common way to check tread wear. Stick the coin into your tire’s grooves (upside-down). If can see the top of Abe’s head, that typically means you need new tires.

This is a helpful test, but it’s not the best solution. New tires come with tread wear indicators. When those tread grooves are level with your tire surface, that’s a sure-fire sign it’s time to retire them.

7. Buy new tires as soon as it becomes necessary.

I get the temptation to procrastinate. Money is tight, so you want to delay the repair for a bit.

Listen: there is never a “good” time for an unexpected expense… and the longer you delay, the more likely you’ll have an accident (and get stuck with a more expensive repair).

You must account for repair and maintenance in your budget. The costs of car ownership don’t stop as soon as you drive a car off the lot. You’ve gotta invest in your car’s condition.

Start an emergency savings account for expenses related to car repair, home improvement, and medical bills. These situations become less stressful when you’re prepared for them. 🙂

Share these tire care tips with your friends so they can save money and drive safe like you.

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