Basic maintenance for your car: Tires, wheels and brakes (Pt. 2)

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A tire showing obvious tread separation.

Sometimes, a worn tire tread is a bit more obvious (Photo Credit: Public Domain/CZmarlin/Wikipedia)

No self-respecting car owner should ignore tires, wheels and brakes when performing basic maintenance. CLICK HERE if you missed the beginning of this article.

Tires, wheels and brakes basic maintenance tip No. 5: Do the tread test

There’s a tire tread test you’ve probably heard of before, but never actually done. No time like the present, however. Considering that most states actually require that tires be replaced if the tread wears below 1/16 of an inch. Take a quarter and stick it in a tread groove in several spots on the tire. If part of George Washington’s head is always covered, the tread is safe for rain driving.

For snow, you’ll want at least 3/16 of an inch for even adequate traction, even with studded tires. Do a penny test on tires for snow. If the top of Abe Lincoln’s head is covered, you’re covered for winter driving.

In North America, tires must have “wear bars” molded into the rubber, and if the tread wear reaches the bar, there will be obvious visual proof. Ignore the evidence and you run the risk of hydroplaning, and maybe even killing yourself and others.

Tires, wheels and brakes basic maintenance tip No. 6: Rotate the tires

Rotating your tires isn’t a maybe/maybe not matter. Or at least it shouldn’t be, if you are committed to proper car care. In order to distribute tire wear evenly for maximum tire life, you should rotate your tires at intervals suggested in your vehicle’s owners manual. This means something in the neighborhood of every 6,000 to 7,500 miles, and a proper tire dealer knows the rotation pattern that should be used.

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Tires, wheels and brakes basic maintenance tip No. 7: Watch out for temperature extremes

Staying on top of temperature extremes is essential when you’re dealing with your car’s engine temperature, but it is also significant when dealing with tire pressure. A drop of 10 degrees Fahrenheit can decrease tire air pressure by as much as a couple of pounds. In warm weather, tires can lose even more pressure. Whatever the case, check your tire air pressure more often when the weather turns.

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Tires, wheels and brakes basic maintenance tip No. 8: The used-tire scenario

Think you’re asking for trouble when you buy used tires? Possibly. It depends upon where you buy, and upon what guarantee the seller offers you. However, consider this. If you have a car that you know you’re only going to drive for a short period of time, such as 1 year, it doesn’t make sense to buy the latest, greatest tires with a 50,000-plus mile warranty. Buy used through a reputable tire dealer and you’ll spend a practical amount of money on your short-term ride.

CLICK HERE for the conclusion of this article on basic maintenance of your tires, wheels and brakes.



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