Wheels & Tires
Below is a comprehensive overview of tire safety for your edification. Use this information to make tire safety a regular part of your vehicle maintenance routine. Recognize that the time you spend is minimal compared with the inconvenience and safety consequences of a flat tire or other tire failure. Bay Area Automotive Services will happily take care of tire maintenance for you if you’d like.
Why should I check my tires regularly?
- Everything rides on it – precious cargo of family, children, friends, co-workers.
- Tire Safety.
- Protection against avoidable breakdowns and crashes.
- Improved vehicle handling.
- Better fuel economy.
- Increased tire life.
Safety First–Basic Tire Maintenance
Properly maintained tires improve the steering, stopping, traction, and load-carrying capability of your vehicle. Underinflated tires and overloaded vehicles are a major cause of tire failure. Therefore, as mentioned above, to avoid flat tires and other types of tire failure, you should maintain proper tire pressure, observe tire and vehicle load limits, avoid road hazards, and regularly inspect your tires.
Tire Safety Checklist
ü Check tire pressure regularly (at least once a month), including the spare.
Inspect tires for uneven wear patterns on the tread, cracks, foreign objects, or other signs of wear or trauma.
ü Remove bits of glass and other foreign objects wedged in the tread.
ü Make sure your tire valves have valve caps.
ü Check tire pressure before going on a long trip.
ü Do not overload your vehicle. Check the tire information placard or owner’s manual for the maximum recommended load for the vehicle.
ü If you are towing a trailer, remember that some of the weight of the loaded trailer is transferred to the towing vehicle.
Safety Tips for Lasting Tires
Studies of tire safety show that maintaining proper tire pressure, observing tire and vehicle load limits (not carrying more weight in your vehicle than your tires or vehicle can safely handle), avoiding road hazards, and inspecting tires for cuts, slashes, and other irregularities are the most important things you can do to avoid tire failure, such as tread separation or blowout and flat tires. These actions, along with other care and maintenance activities, can also:
ü Improve vehicle handling
ü Help protect you and others from avoidable breakdowns and accidents
ü Improve fuel economy
ü Increase the life of your tires
ü Slow down if you have to go over a pothole or other object in the road
ü Do not run over curbs, and try not to strike the curb when parking
Remember to check your tires once a month!
Helpful information about Tires
Finding Your Vehicle’s Recommended Tire Pressure and Load Limits
You can find the numbers for recommended tire pressure and vehicle load limit on the tire information placard and in the vehicle owner’s manual. Tire placards are permanent labels attached to the vehicle door edge, doorpost, glove-box door, or inside of the trunk lid. Once you’ve located this information, use it to check your tire pressure and to make sure your vehicle is not overloaded—especially when you head out for vacation.
Tire information placards and vehicle certification labels contain information on tires and load limits. These labels indicate the vehicle manufacturer’s information including:
ü Recommended tire size
ü Recommended tire inflation pressure
ü Vehicle capacity weight (VCW–the maximum occupant and cargo weight a vehicle is designed to carry)
ü Front and rear gross axle weight ratings (GAWR–the maximum weight the axle systems are designed to carry).
Steps on how to properly maintain your vehicle tires
Why Should I Check Tire Pressure?
It is important to check your vehicle’s tire pressure at least once a month for the following reasons:
ü Most tires may naturally lose air over time.
ü Tires can lose air suddenly if you drive over a pothole or other object or if you strike the curb when parking.
ü With radial tires, it is usually not possible to determine under-inflation by visual inspection.
For your convenience, purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your vehicle. Gauges can be purchased at tire dealerships, auto supply stores, and other retail outlets.
The recommended tire inflation pressure that vehicle manufacturers provide reflects the proper psi when a tire is cold. The term cold does not relate to the outside temperature. Rather, a cold tire is one that has not been driven on for at least three hours. When you drive, your tires get warmer, causing the air pressure within them to increase. Therefore, to get an accurate tire pressure reading, you must measure tire pressure when the tires are cold or compensate for the extra pressure in warm tires.
Helpful Instructions on Checking & Maintaining Your Vehicle’s Proper Tire Pressure
Step 1: Locate the correct tire pressure on the tire information placard or in the owner’s manual.
Step 2: Record the tire pressure of all tires.
Step 3: If the tire pressure is too high in any of the tires, slowly release air by gently pressing on the tire valve with the edge of your tire gauge until you get to the correct pressure.
Step 4: If the tire pressure is too low, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. These “missing” pounds of pressure are what you will need to add.
Step 5: At a service station, add the missing pounds of air pressure to each tire that is underinflated. Bay Area Automotive Services will happily add air to your tires free of charge.
Step 6: Check all the tires to make sure they have the same air pressure (except in cases in which the front and rear tires are supposed to have different amounts of pressure).
If you have been driving your vehicle and think that a tire is underinflated, fill it to the recommended cold inflation pressure indicated on your vehicle’s tire information placard or certification label (usually found inside your driver side door trim). While your tire may still be slightly underinflated due to the extra pounds of pressure in the warm tire, it is safer to drive with air pressure that is slightly lower than the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended cold inflation pressure than to drive with a significantly underinflated tire. Since this is a temporary fix, don’t forget to recheck and adjust the tire’s pressure when you can obtain a cold reading.
According to the NHTSA, the vehicle manufacturer, not the tire manufacturer, determines the correct tire pressure for the tires on your vehicle.
Checking Tire Tread
The tire tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevent your vehicle from slipping or sliding, especially when the road is wet or icy. In general, tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. Tires have built-in treadwear indicators that let you know when it is time to replace your tires. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear “even” with the outside of the tread, it is time to replace your tires. Another method for checking tread depth is to place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you are ready for new tires.
To maintain tire safety, purchase new tires that are the same size as the vehicle’s original tires or another size recommended by the manufacturer. Look at the tire information placard, the owner’s manual, or the sidewall of the tire you are replacing to find this information. If you have any doubt about the correct size to choose, consult with the tire dealer.
Tire Balance and Wheel Alignment
To avoid vibration or shaking of the vehicle when a tire rotates, the tire must be properly balanced. This balance is achieved by positioning weights on the wheel to counterbalance heavy spots on the wheel-and-tire assembly. A wheel alignment adjusts the angles of the wheels so that they are positioned correctly relative to the vehicle’s frame. This adjustment maximizes the life of your tires and prevents your car from veering to the right or left when driving on a straight, level road. These adjustments require special equipment and should be performed by a qualified technician.
Rotating tires from front to back and from side to side can reduce irregular wear (for vehicles that have tires that are all the same size). Look in your owner’s manual for information on how frequently the tires on your vehicle should be rotated and the best pattern for rotation.
The proper repair of a punctured tire requires a plug for the hole and a patch for the area inside the tire that surrounds the puncture hole. Punctures through the tread can be repaired if they are not too large, but punctures to the sidewall should not be repaired. Tires must be removed from the rim to be properly inspected before being plugged and patched.
U.S. DOT Tire Identification Number – Getting Your New Tires Registered
This begins with the letters “DOT” and indicates that the tire meets all federal standards. The next two numbers or letters are the plant code where it was manufactured, and the last four numbers represent the week and yearthe tire was built. For example, the numbers 3197 means the 31st week of 1997. The other numbers are marketing codes used at the manufacturer’s discretion. This information is used to contact consumers if a tire defect requires a recall.
Bay Area Automotive Services provides customers registration service of newly purchased tires.
Please note that there is a minimum $52.17 (plus ss & tx) vehicle diagnosis charge for vehicles that do not complete repairs with our facility.
Thank you for your understanding.
Reference from NHTSA Database Retrieved from http://www.nhtsa.gov/DOT/NHTSA/Vehicle%20Safety/Articles/Associated%20Files/one.pdf