There is no shortage of reasons to celebrate during May. Whether it’s a graduation, the start of summer, or even National Bike Month, there are dozens of excuses for getting out the party hats. However, here at Falken Tire there is one week in particular that gets more of our attention and that is, of course, the annual National Tire Safety Week, promoted by our friends at the Rubber Manufacturers Association and scheduled for May 24-30 this year.
It’s no secret that our favorite product also happens to be one of the most neglected parts of a car. That’s a shame – because tires are pretty easy to keep in top shape. And, while events like National Tire Safety Week focus everyone’s attention on the importance of tires, taking care of your vehicle’s treads isn’t just a once-a-year activity.
Whether you bought your car to get you from point A to point B or are the enthusiast type who attends tracks days, basic maintenance is for everyone.
Keep these items in mind to allow your tires to grip the road better and last longer:
1. Check tire pressure once a month. Don’t wait for your tire sensors to alert you to a problem (guaranteed, it’ll happen when you’re far from an easily accessible air supply). The correct pressure is vital for handling, fuel mileage, tire longevity – and peace of mind. Pressure can fluctuate based on external temperatures and vehicle load, not just an errant nail, so check the numbers regularly. Recommended settings can be found on a label in the door jamb, or in the owner’s manual. Checking tire pressure is one of the easiest do-it-yourself car maintenance tasks. If you don’t already know how to do it, just have your favorite tire technician show you how to use a gauge. And, while you’re at it, check the pressure in your spare tire as well.
Take a close look at your tires if they look like this. Here, you can see the effects of severe under inflation.
2. Rotating tires keeps everything equal. While you are at your local tire shop, go ahead and have them rotate your tires. Tires should indeed be rotated every 3,000-5,000 miles, depending on your car manufacturer’s recommendations (and some tire mileage warranties actually require rotation). The rotation pattern depends on the tire sizes and whether your vehicle is front, rear or four-wheel drive. Rotation has numerous benefits – including potentially helping to equalize wear patterns.
3. Balance and alignment isn’t just great for your work life. People spend a lot of time discussing the merits of work/life balance. We happen to think (and every automotive professional will agree) that your tires deserve just as much attention. Most drivers won’t give tire alignment and balance a thought until the car develops a sudden vibration, shimmy or other annoying (and frankly, often unsafe) behavior. Perhaps you’ve hit a monster pothole or you regularly navigate rutted backroads – whatever caused a change in your vehicle’s toe and camber will have a negative impact on tire wear – not to mention handling and stopping ability. Let a tire service professional help.
Here, you can see the effects of severe misalignment.
4. Don’t drive “barefoot.” Summer might be great for ditching your shoes, but tires without treads are a seriously bad idea. Tread depth is vital for your safety. At 2/32-inch, your tires are officially worn out and must be replaced. To see how much life is left in yours, grab a penny, hold it upside down with Abe Lincoln’s head perpendicular to the tire, and insert it into the tire grooves. Check your tires in multiple spots. For people driving in extreme weather conditions, we recommend replacement at 8/32-inch. Most tires also feature wear indicators that look like raised bars at the bottom of the tread groove. When the tread is worn down to match the height of the indicator, it is high time for replacement.
5. Track tires need extra love. When using a performance tire, such as the Falken AZENIS RT615K, for autocross or track, keeping the tires in the correct tire temperature range is important. So is allowing the tires to cool off fully between sessions. Excessive heat, as well as improper setup and alignment, will accelerate wear and reduce performance. After a day at the track, make sure you reset your tire pressures for the drive home. If you use your RT615K tires as a second set on your car, store them in a dry, cool place to keep them ready for your competitive event.
6. Tough-duty tires need more frequent inspections. There’s a reason why people love trucks and big SUVs – they let us tow our favorite stuff, from power toys to job equipment. When you’re headed off into the backcountry or hauling boats, campers, motorcycle trailers or Bobcats®, proper alignment and pressure are even more important. Tires such as our Falken WILDPEAK A/T are designed to handle tough terrain and loads, as well as customization such as lifting, but all that hard use also means that correct air pressure and proper rotation schedules are very important.
7. Know how long you’re covered. Understand your tire warranty. Falken’s warranty clearly identifies how long your tires are warranted: down to 2/32-inch tread depth on passenger and light truck tires, and for certain mileage on specific tire models. You may also be lucky enough to have a local retailer who offers free flat repair and rotation – take full advantage!
Following these few simple tips will keep your Falken tires working well, delivering trouble-free miles on the street, on the track and in the dirt.