Many drivers fail to realize the importance of the tires they drive on, and are surprised when they fail or require replacement. In fact, proper tire maintenance is crucial to vehicle safety and durability; and when done properly, it extends the life of the tires too. There are a few basic steps involved in tire maintenance, and important precautions which all drivers should follow to improve the life of their tires, along with their personal safety. There is no hard and fast rule of thumb on how long tires will last, primarily because this greatly depends on how the car is driven, where it is driven, and the level of maintenance performed. Generally under optimum circumstances, drivers should replace their tires every four to five years.
The first step in tire maintenance is selecting the right type. Drivers should always use the type of tire recommended for their vehicle. This information is usually listed in the owner's manual and inside the door. If you are unsure, check with a mechanic to be sure that you are purchasing the right tire. Once your tires have been installed, you are responsible for keeping them in good shape by checking their inflation frequently and periodically rotating them.
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Tire pressure is also very important. Many drivers check the inflation of their tires every time they get fuel, which is an excellent idea because if the pressure is low, the gas station provides compressed air for inflation. All vehicles have a recommended inflation level listed inside the door, and all tires have an inflation rating which drivers should check as well. The recommended inflation is based on the load limit rating for that model of car, and it is important to make sure that your car's recommended load limit is not exceeded as well.
Additionally, you should make sure that your car is properly aligned, having the alignment checked when you change the oil and after an accident of any size. A car that is out of alignment will wear tires unevenly, ultimately causing damage. The wheels may also need to be balanced, especially if you notice shuddering or jimmying at high rates of speed. Bad shock absorbers and struts can affect tire wear.
Additionally, drivers should be cautious about the surfaces they drive on and reckless driving. In addition to being dangerous, reckless driving is very demanding on tires and will lead to a need for replacement. Hot roads, heavily pockmarked or potholed roads, and roads undergoing resurfacing will cause your car's alignment to slip in addition to damaging tires. If you drive in difficult conditions frequently, you should have the alignment checked frequently as well, and correct the alignment if necessary. In some areas, drivers align their cars two or more times a year due to bad roads.