One of the simplest ways to keep your vehicle safer on the road is to maintain its tires. Regularly inspecting your auto tires and repairing or replacing them as needed keeps you and others on the road safer.

Basics of tire wear
The pattern of ridges and grooves on a tire's surface comprise its tread. Tread helps provide increased traction and divert water. As tread wears with use and time, the tire becomes less effective. Certain driving practices, like heavy braking, fast cornering, rough roads, overloading the vehicle and poor maintenance cause quicker wear. Most tires manufactured today carry a life of 25,000 to 50,000 miles. This varies depending on tire composition and car make and model.

Testing for wear
Inspect your tires once per month and before taking road trips. Perform the following four-point inspection.

  1. Check your tire pressure. Your owner's manual and the label inside the driver's door provide the proper inflation level, and if your tires are below this, stop at a gas station and fill them up.
  2. Take a tread measurement. Insert a penny between two ridges in the center of the tread; make sure the head on the penny is facing you. If the forehead remains hidden by tread, the tire is in good shape. If you see only some hair, start planning for replacement. If you see the top of the head, or above it, immediately replace the tire.
  3. Inspect each tire for foreign objects, cuts, slashes, wires, damaged valve caps and damage to the sidewall.
  4. Drive the vehicle, paying close attention to how the ride feels. If the drive seems rough or you notice vibrations, check the tires. A rough ride on a smooth surface can indicate tire damage.

Time for a change
You can't safely patch every tear or hole. Consult a tire and auto services professional. Only a pro can determine if your tire needs repair or replacement. They can also ensure proper wheel alignment and rotate your tires. Tire rotation helps ensure that all tires accrue wear at the same rate, increasing their overall lifespan.

Many auto manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years. Your tire's birth date is on the sidewall. The code beginning "DOT" includes it. The last four digits indicate its week and year of manufacture, so 1112 means it was made in the eleventh week of 2012. Ten years is the absolute maximum you should keep using a tire.

For great deals on tire services and new tires, stop in to Calabro Tire & Auto Service in Upper St. Claire, PA.

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