Whether you're nipping out to the grocery store or planning a cross-country road trip to visit your folks for the holidays, getting from A to B in your car is largely dependent on the health of its tires. Tire blowouts are actually a leading source of accidents, potentially causing harm to you, your passengers, or other drivers - so tire maintenance should always be a priority. Besides, if one of your tires goes it can be a major hindrance to your journey, as you'll either have to fix it yourself or be stranded on the side of the road while you wait for help. To avoid these scenarios, get into the habit of checking the health of your tires on a regular basis. Here are 5 different ways to do so.
This is easier said than done, especially when you're driving at speed or in the dark, but if you are able to avoid sharp objects like glass or rocks, then you reduce the risk of any unwanted tire damage. Now, swerving out of the way of objects might not always be the safe thing to do, so don't sacrifice your overall safety for the sake of your tire, but if you can pass around an object rather than over it, then take that option. If you do drive over a sharp object, or if you feel or hear something that doesn't sound right, pull over as soon as possible to check your tires and their pressure.
It's tempting to think that a quick glance at your 4 tires is a sufficient measure of tire pressure, but even expert mechanics can't evaluate properly this way. To check your tire pressure, you'll need to use a tire pressure gauge to ensure they're adequately inflated. Although you can do this at a garage, it might be worth investing in your own gauge, because regular checks - especially before a long journey - are highly recommended. Aim to check your tires once a month.
By rotating your tires on a regular basis, you'll get the most wear out of them. The reason for this is that each time your tire sits on a different wheel it will wear down in a slightly different area. This is known as uniform wear. It's recommended that you rotate your tires once after approximately every 5,000 mi (8,000 km).
More common than you might think, the front end of your car can easily come out of alignment if you hit a pothole or a ramp at speed. If this happens, it can quickly affect the condition of your tires so be sure to make regular visits to a garage to check that your car is still as straight as an arrow.
Get into the habit of checking your tires regularly for signs of damage - cuts, slashes, punctures, or even nails. Whilst there, look for uneven wear in the tire tread. This could be high wear or low, or unusually smooth areas. Make sure to replace your tires if the tread is worn down more than a quarter of an inch.