We usually become proactive in tire maintenance as the season changes. And the season will change sooner than we probably expect. Here is some ‘tire talk’ for you to prepare for that moment of ‘change’.
How long do tires last?
Tires manufactured today are more durable than ever before. They are made of steel, rubber and fabric woven together. Over 1 billion tires are produced every year. It is important to be aware of how long you use tires before you make the replacement. The life expectancy of a tire greatly depends on its maintenance, environmental conditions and the driving style of the driver.
40 years ago, the average life expectancy of a tire was not more than two years! Today it is best to change your tires after every 6 years at least. After tires hit a life span of 6 years, they should be discarded. This is because rubber loses its elasticity and resistance properties over that period.
Factor Affecting the Life of Tires
- Climatic Conditions – If you stay near the beach or if it rains a lot in your area, the chances are the moisture in the air will ruin the rubber faster.
- Road Conditions – A bumpy ride can also reduce your tire’s life
- Exposure to Sun – Simply put, the more the exposure to the sun, the sooner the tire ages.
- Other Factors – Avoid exceeding the total limit of weight allowed for your tires to carry.
- Quality of Maintenance – How long you can use tires depends a lot on how you took care of it in the first place. When the tires are neglected or the wheel alignment is not correct, it will accelerate the aging process.
How to Extend Your Tire’s Life
Tire life can be enhanced by several strategies that will help protect them from premature rotting.
1 – Check your tires for proper inflation pressures on a monthly basis. Buy and use a good digital tire gauge even though your tires may be equipped with tire pressure monitors. Do not use the maximum pounds per square inch (PSI) noted on the tire’s sidewall as the measure for proper inflation; the recommended PSI for your vehicle’s tires is on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual for your car. Under – or over – inflation of your tires inhibits the effectiveness of stabilizing additives found in most tires.
2 – Park your car in a garage or car port to decrease the tires’ exposure to the elements. Protection from excessive heat and UV rays will help protect your tires from premature rot.
3 – Apply a tire conditioner that is formulated to protect tires from UV rays and/or ozone. Household cleansers and petrochemical or silicone containing tire cleaning products can actually remove much of the tire’s protective waxes.
4 – Drive the car regularly and at moderate speeds. Car tires that sit, unmoving, for long periods of time do not flex. Therefore, the stabilizing additives do not distribute as designed.
5 – Buy new tires that were manufactured no more than two years prior. Dates are on one side of each tire, and use numbers that coincide with week and year of manufacture. For example, 1209 means it was made in the twelfth week of 2009. Ask for tires that have UV stabilizers and ozone shielding additives.
Outside edges: tires that are worn on the outside edges have been under inflated. There is excessive contact with the outer edges of the tire and the road surface as the vehicle travels down the road.
Center of tire: tires that are worn in the center have been over inflated. There is excessive contact with the center of the tire and the road surface. Always use a tire gauge when inflating tires.
One of the edges: when the tire is worn on one side but not the other the camber angle is off either negative or positive. (Positive camber: is when the top of the tire leans away from the vehicle. Negative camber is when the top of the tire leans in towards the vehicle. This can also be caused by bent or damaged front end parts: tie rods, ball joints, etc.)
Tire is feathered: when the tire is feathered across the tread the tie rods are worn or the vehicle needs to be aligned. The ball studs get loose in their sockets allowing the tires to toe in/out as the vehicle travels down the road. Toe in is when the fronts of the tires are closer together than the rears and toe out is when the fronts of the tires are further apart than the rears.
Tire is scalloped: when the tire is scalloped or cupped across the tread it is usually caused by bad shocks or struts. This can also be caused by out of balance tires. Bounce the front end to see if it oscillates and test drive the vehicle to see if it floats and leans excessively around corners. Bad struts are the number one cause of cupped tires. Tire wear can indicate a worn steering or suspension component, an over or under inflated tire, or a misaligned vehicle. Visual inspection of vehicle tires is an important step in the preliminary inspection process.
Rotate Your Tires!
Tire rotation can be beneficial in several ways. When done at the recommended times, it can preserve balanced handling and traction and even out tire wear. Tire rotation can even provide performance advantages.
Many tire mileage warranties require tire rotation to keep the warranty valid. When should tires be rotated? We recommend that tires be rotated every 6,000 to 10,000 km even if they don’t show signs of wear. Consider tire rotation with oil change intervals while the vehicle is off the ground.
Tire rotation helps even out tire wear by allowing each tire to serve in as many of the vehicle’s wheel positions as possible. Remember, tire rotation can’t correct wear problems due to worn mechanical parts or incorrect inflation pressures.
Tire talk with your dealership is a good idea. It’s a safe idea. And it’s a performance idea.
The Cowell Auto Group has been in business for over 40 years and is a leader in Automotive Sales and Service – owning four dealerships in the Richmond Auto Mall: Audi of Richmond, Jaguar Richmond, Land Rover of Richmond and Cowell Volkswagen.
Richmond Auto Mall
13611 Smallwood Place, Richmond, BC V6V 1W8
Toll-free: 1 800 252 6352