Your tires are a pretty big investment. Even with the cheapest set of tires, you’re going to be spending upwards of $400 on the tires, mounting, balancing, disposal fees and taxes. Since you laid down that kind of money, doesn’t it just make sense to make sure you get the most miles possible out of them? Here’s some advice on long tire life:
• Regularly check your tire pressure. This one is really, really important. Underinflated tires will wear unevenly and reduce your fuel economy due to increased rolling resistance. That increased rolling resistance also means more heat, which will break down the tires’ internal structure and shorten their lives. All it takes to shorten a tire’s service life by 25 percent is for it to be underinflated by 5-6 lbs.
• Rotate your tires regularly. No vehicle has even weight distribution from front to rear. The engine puts more weight over the front wheels; in addition, the front tires will wear differently as the vehicle’s weight and momentum shifts to the front while braking. The front tires are also subjected to different forces while cornering. As a result, it’s important to rotate the tires, shifting their positions on the vehicle to even out wear. Rotations should be done every 6,000 miles or so; many drivers have the rotation performed at the same time as an oil change, since the vehicle’s already up on a lift anyway.
• Check your wheel alignment. A vehicle that’s in need of a wheel alignment will wear the front tires unevenly, as the out-of-spec wheel tries to drag the car in a different direction. That’s what also causes the persistent pull to one side while driving in a straight line. Be alert to the signs of poor wheel alignment, and have an alignment performed if necessary.
• Drive sensibly. That means no hard cornering and no wheel spin while taking off.