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Tire Maintenance

How well do you take care of your tires? Do you keep them properly inflated? Do you check if they're worn? How much do you know about basic tire maintenance and its impact on safety and fuel consumption?

If you care about your safety, and about saving money, it's important to understand how tires affect your car or truck's performance.

Stay safe by taking care of your tires
  • Poor tire maintenance—not having enough air in your tires and failing to rotate your tires, among other maintenance requirements—can lead to a flat tire, blowout, or the tread coming off your tire.
  • About 200 people die on the road every year as the result of tire-related crashes.
Save money by taking care of your tires
  • Properly inflating your tires can save you as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel. Yet only 19 percent of consumers properly inflate their tires. That means four out of five consumers are wasting money because of underinflated tires!
  • Additional proper tire maintenance, such as rotation, balance and alignment, can help your tires last longer, which will in turn save you money. In fact, properly inflated tires can extend the average life of a tire by 4,700 miles.
Five tire maintenance tips for safety and savings
Follow these five simple tire maintenance tips to protect yourself and your wallet.
  1. Tire pressure
    Proper tire pressure is the most important part of maintaining your tires. It affects safety, their durability, and your fuel consumption.

  2. Tire tread
    Tire tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevents your car or truck from slipping and sliding, especially when the road is icy or wet. Tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch.
    • Check your tire's tread at least once a month when you're checking their pressure.
    • Tires have built-in "treadwear indicators," which are raised sections that run in between the tire's tread. When the tread is worn down so that it's level with the tread indicator, it's time to replace your tires.

    • You can also check your tread by placing a penny in the tread with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, replace your tires.
  3. Balance and alignment
    Having your tires balanced and a wheel alignment performed by a qualified technician is important for the safety of your vehicle and to maximize the life of your tires.
    • Tire balancing ensures your wheels rotate properly and don't cause the vehicle to shake or vibrate. New tires should always be balanced when installed.
    • A wheel alignment maximizes the life of your tires and prevents your car from veering to the right or left when driving on a straight, level road.
  4. Tire rotation
    • Rotating your tires can help reduce irregular wear, which will help your tires last longer and maintain the fuel efficiency of your tires.
    • Check your owner's manual for information on how frequently the tires on your vehicle should be rotated and the best pattern for rotation.
    • If recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, rotate tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles or sooner if uneven wear appears.
    • For some vehicles, tire rotation is not recommended. If your front and rear tires are different sizes, you may not be able to rotate your tires. Check your owner's manual for guidance.

    Tire Rotation
  5. Tire size
    To maintain tire safety, purchase new tires that are the same size as the vehicle's original tires or another size recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Check your owner's manual or the Tire and Loading Information Label located on the driver's side door edge or post to find the correct size for your car or truck. If you have any doubt about the correct size to choose, consult with the tire dealer. They can find the correct size tire for your vehicle.
Research Tire Recalls or File a Complaint
In addition to following these five important maintenance tips, make sure that you receive notifications if your tire is subject to a recall. Register your tires with the tire manufacturer and sign-up to receive tire recall alerts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

You can also file tire complaints regarding potential safety issues and check to see if other consumers have filed safety defect complaints or if NHTSA has an ongoing tire investigation.