October is Tire Month at Car-X! Why? It is the best time of year to pay attention to your tires and make sure they are ready for the coming winter months. The importance of tire maintenance cannot be underestimated – they are your vehicle’s only contact with the road.
• Have your tires inspected for proper wear and tread depth. Have them rotated if necessary according to your owner’s manual.
• Make sure your tires are in good shape. If they’re not, have them replaced. Tires that are worn, cracked, or out of balance can seriously hinder your ability to drive and control your car. The majority of winter accidents are caused by loss of control of the vehicle on snowy or icy roads.
• Depending on where you live, you may want to consider winter or snow tires. Snow tires can provide up to 20% better snow traction than all-season tires. With snow tires, you receive the benefits of shorter braking distances as well as more predictable and controllable turning.
• The valve caps on your tires are more valuable than you may think. They keep out any debris and prevent moisture from entering the tire, which can cause damage if the moisture freezes. This is especially critical for vehicles equipped with TPMS.
• All four tires should have the appropriate amount of inflation and pressure. This should be checked every few weeks once the weather gets cold, as the cooler temperatures cause the pressure in your tires to drop.
• Low tire pressure also negatively impacts gas mileage. According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Energy, having properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%.
• When was the last time you checked your spare? Take a look at your spare tire to ensure it is in good condition. A time when you really need it is not a time to find out it is flat.
Making sure your tires are in good condition is important, especially when preparing for the winter months. Read our article about the other components of winterization.
It is likely at some point in your life you will get a flat tire. Do you know what to do without having to ask for help?
• It is important to find a flat, level surface on which to change the tire. This will prevent the car from rolling.
• Your vehicle should be in “Park” and should have the parking brake on.
• Place heavy objects in front of both sets of tires.
• Getting out the jack and spare tire, place the jack under the frame of the car, near the tire you will be changing.
• If your car has plastic along the bottom, as most cars do, make sure the jack is in the correct spot based on your owner’s manual. If it is not in the correct spot, it could crack the plastic.
• Raise the jack to a point where it is supporting, not lifting, the car, ensuring it is firmly in place under the vehicle. It should be at a 90 degree angle to the ground.
• To remove the tire, you first need to take off the hubcap and loosen the nuts with a wrench, turning them counterclockwise. They do not need to be taken off completely, just loosened.
• Depending on the jack, pump or crank the jack to lift the tire up off the ground. While doing this, make sure that the car feels stable and the jack is lifting straight up and not at an angle.
• At this point, remove the nuts entirely. Remove the tire, keeping in mind that it may be stuck because of rust buildup. Hitting the tire with any sort of object (such as the spare tire), should loosen it.
• Aligning the rim of the spare tire with the bolts of the wheel, place the new spare tire on and put the nuts on.
• Tighten the nuts first by hand and then with the wrench once they get tighter.
• Lower the jack, but do not yet put the full weight on the tire. Tighten the nuts as much as possible, then lower the car completely to the ground and remove the jack.
• Ensure the nuts are tightened all the way and replace the hubcap.
• If the tire is not destroyed, take it into a mechanic. Tires with smaller holes can typically be repaired for under $20.
• Always refer to your owner’s manual if there are any questions about where things go.