“Tires are the most important part of the car,” says Shelly Smith, owner of Port Moody Auto & Air. “But they are also the most undervalued. Often people think the tires are OK because they can still see the tread, but it may not be wearing properly.”
Smith encourages people to bring their car into a garage if they’re not sure how to check their tires, since it’s only going to take a few minutes to have a look.
“The problem could even be on the inside of the tire, which you would never see by just looking at them,” says Smith.
Here are common problems associated with poor tire maintenance:
• Using an incorrect tread gauge: You may know there’s a way to measure the depth of a tire tread but not know what it is. Go to a car parts store for a tread-depth gauge. If you measure 4/32 and up, that’s good. Under 4/32 needs replacing.
• Unseen cuts: Cuts that cause air loss, either rapid or slow, can lead to a tire blow out – a very hazardous event, particularly during highway driving. And it’s very complicated to control a vehicle that blows a tire, Smith warns.
• Damage on the side of the tire: If you have any kind of damage on the side of the tire, the integrity is compromised. Any kind of puncture, in particular, should be dealt with right away.
• Over-inflation: This causes the tire to be too rounded where it touches the ground, so there is less grip on the road. It will also cause the middle treads to wear more quickly than the outer treads, causing the need for early replacement.
• Under-inflation: This causes the outer treads to wear more quickly and can lead to increasing fuel costs by as much as 15%, because the tire actually has too much grip and causes the engine to work harder.
“If air pressure is problematic because you now have to pay for air or you don’t have a proper gauge, go to a full-service station where they will check it for you,” Smith suggests. The minor extra cost could saves hundreds of dollars – or your life.