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Keeping your summer tires going strong

The tires on your vehicle wheels are literally rubber that meets the pavement, and for better or worse, the summertime can be your tires’ worst enemy. High heat, long road trips, and road construction projects can do a number on your summer tires. If we want to keep our wheels spinning to fall and winter, caring for your summer tires is a must.  There are simple, proactive things you can do to maintain and to protect your tires during the summer months.  Check out the list below to maintain the condition of your tires in what many call the dog days of summer.

Before you buy new summer tires

Before you buy new summer tires, you’ll need to know what to get.  You’ll need to find out the correct size of tire as well as its loading recommendations.  Your owner’s manual provides that information, and once you are clear on that, you have a few options on what tires to purchase.

Consider purchasing all season tires or summer performance tires.  All season tires provide a compromise or balance for the warm weather months as well as the cold weather months.  All-season tires have moderate tread and a longer tread life.  Ideally, they are modeled for wet and dry conditions, and are suitable for most drivers.  Summer performance tires are best for high-performance vehicles and are constructed for speed and agility.  Summer tires provide the best performance in wet driving conditions.  When deciding between the two, you’ll need to consider a few factors, such as the driving conditions where you live, your climate and your performance needs.  All of your tires should be the same type.  If you choose all season tires, then all four of your tires should be that type, and vice versa with summer tires.  Ultimately, use your vehicles owner’s manual as a guide.

Monitor your tire pressure

A major component of summer tire care is monitoring your tire pressure.  Both underinflated and overinflated tires can cause problems, including blowouts, poor handling and breaking, uneven tire wear, reduced gas mileage and other problems.

Ideally, your tire pressure should be checked at a minimum of once per month, and always before a long trip.  Most experts recommended keeping a tire pressure gauge in your car just for this task.  And doing this first thing in the morning, or when your tires are cold, is best for an accurate reading.  Your owner’s manual, as well as the inside sticker of your driver side door,  gives you the proper PSI to inflate your tire.

Many new model cars have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) lamp that lights up when one or more of your tires has low pressure.  This also aids you in knowing and checking your tire pressure on a routine basis.

Don’t forget your spare!

Spare tires, intended only as a temporary fix in the event of a blow out or flat tire, should also be checked routinely for the correct tire pressure.  In addition to your owner’s manual, the proper PSI is typically stamped on the side of the spare tire.

Rotate all your tires, not just your summer tires

Routinely rotating your tires prevents any imbalance in the tire wear and allows your tires to last longer.  Though it depends on the auto manufacturer’s recommendations, tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 6,000 miles.  This service may be automatic when you replace your tires at an auto repair shop.

Keep an eye on your alignment

Like tire rotation, alignment also plays a part in good summer tire care.  A vehicle  out of alignment directly impacts your tires, specifically causing uneven wear.  Checking your vehicle alignment should be done regularly, and particularly if you notice your vehicle pulling to one side of the road while you’re driving.

Measure tire tread

Checking the tire tread should also be done regularly.  The ability of a tire to stop within a safe distance can be compromised if the tread of your tire is worn.  If your tires don’t have the proper depth of tread, it can lead to dangerous situations on the road.  The best way to measure your tire tread is to take a penny and place it upside down in the groove of the tread patterns.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tire.  If his head is covered, you have enough tire tread.

What the wear on your tires tells you

If you notice wearing in the center of your tire tread, this signals over inflation.  If there is wear on the sides of your tires, it’s an indication of underinflation.  Patchy tire tread patterns or diagonal wear patterns indicate unbalanced tires.  But, as long as you keep your wheels balanced and aligned, properly rotated, and inflated, tire tread should wear evenly across your tire.

Check your summer tires for damage

Overall, you also want to check your tire for any general visible damage.  This can include cuts, cracks, punctures, bubbles, or other signs of damage.  All of these would indicate damage done to your tire and the necessity for a replacement.  Bars or visible steel belts seen though the tread is another indication of damage to the tire.

Pack light

Overloading your vehicle impacts the pressure of your tires.  Before you pack up the SUV for a summer trip to the beach with the kids or a road trip across the country with college friends, find out what your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight training is, which details its maximum operating weight.  This can be found in the owner’s manual.

Drive for the weather

Be mindful of the extreme temperatures and rainstorms that come in the summer.  You want to be a safe and cautious driver at all times of the year but be particularly mindful of driving on the days of extreme high heat or times where flash flooding, or rain puddles could provide a danger to your tires if not driven wisely.

Avoid driving on areas with nails or other construction debris

It sounds like common sense, but to protect your tires year round, avoid debris. Steer clear of areas, roads, or construction sites with compromising materials, such as nails, screws. These items could puncture a hole in your tire, leading to a small leak or outright tire failure.

Know when it’s time to replace your summer tires

Ultimately, whether it’s due to the end of the service life of your tires, wear and tear, or outright damage, your tires likely need replacing.  It’s important for you to know when it is that time.  Barring any immediate reasons to replace your tire, most mechanics recommend replacing them every five to six years, though your owner’s manual  gives you more specific information.

If you are dealing with a slow leak and the cost of replacing your tire is not feasible at that time, auto shops do offer two other, common solutions: the use of a tire plug or patch. Both of these provide a good, temporary solution until you purchase a tire.

Your vehicle’s tires take the brunt of the wear and tear we put on our cars and help keep us safe on the rough asphalt of the roads, especially during the high heat days of summer.  Make summer tire care a priority.  Be prepared for the unexpected on the road and get real-time roadside assistance today!

Article last updated on October 27th, 2023 at 12:38 pm

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