Tire maintenance is key to staying safe on the road, getting more longevity out of your tires, and improving your gas mileage. Of course, that means checking your tires regularly and keeping up with your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. But there are some things you may not know you should be asking about your tires and getting the best performance from them.
Our real expert or “tire pro,” Korey Cutlip, owner of Regal Auto Care Tire Pros in Auburn, Washington, is sharing his expert tire knowledge.
How often should you check your tire pressure?
Checking your tire pressure should be done once a month, or anytime there’s a temperature swing of 20-30 degrees from day to night. Oxygen shrinks when it’s cold outside, so it’s essential to make sure to air up those tires correctly, Cutlip said.
“Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure makes your tires last longer,” he said. “Your tires will wear better, you’ll have proper road handling, and you’ll have better braking and cornering.”
How often should you rotate your tires?
Your vehicle’s tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. A good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires when you change your oil, so you don’t forget to do this critical task, Cutlip said.
“If you don’t rotate your tires on a regular basis, you’ll have to replace the tires two at a time on a normal car,” he said. “If you never rotate your tires, your front tires will wear out much faster than the rear tires, and you’ll have to replace your tires more often.”
Tire professionals typically rotate the tires from front to back and back to front, and the next time they’ll do a cross rotation, he added.
How often can you repair a flat tire?
Typically, you can only repair a flat tire three times before it should be replaced, Cutlip said.
“The majority of tire manufacturers agree that three repairs to one tire as the maximum before a replacement is needed,” he said. “There are steel belts that run from side to side in the tire, and nails separate those steel belts. Every time a repair is needed, it weakens the life of the tire.”
When should you use a tire repair aerosol like Fix-A-Flat?
Fix-A-Flat should only be used in an emergency. Ideally, when a driver has a flat tire, they should instead put their smaller donut tire on and drive it to a repair shop or get the car towed, Cutlip said.
Fix-A-Flat can cause problems, such as possibly ruining the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) sensors, he said. The sensors are mandatory in all vehicles since 2008. These sensors are the link to displaying a tire issue on your dashboard.
“Fix-A-Flat also makes it really difficult for the glue to bind to the rubber on the tire patch,” Cutlip added. “It also creates a massive mess, filling your tire with green sludge, grime, and glue. The amount of cleanup is larger, and repair costs are increased when using Fix-A-Flat.”
Should you ever drive on a flat tire?
As soon as you realize you have a flat tire, you should get to the side of the road as quickly and safely as possible to increase your chances of saving that tire. Driving on a flat tire is never recommended, Cutlip said.
“Even driving on it for an 8th of a mile can ruin the tire beyond repair,” he said. “The rim cuts the inside of the tire when there’s no air in it, preventing it from getting repaired. Driving on a flat tire can also cause damage to the wheel as well, increasing the cost of a repair.”
What should you consider when you want to change the size of your tires or wheels?
When changing your tire size to a smaller or larger wheel or tire, it’s vital to maintain the weight-carrying capacity of the vehicle. Drivers who choose to lift their trucks or SUVs, or lower them, should work with a tire professional to make sure they have the right tires for their upgrade, Cutlip cautioned.
“You don’t want your tires to blow out when you’re driving, and you don’t want a safety issue,” he said. “Make sure there is clearance from the suspension and drivetrain components. Stay within the proper speed rating, as well as load-carrying capacity, going with either the same or a higher rating.”
Can your vehicle get better gas mileage with properly inflated tires?
Yes! Your car’s tires can play an essential role in helping you get the best gas mileage and saving you money at the pump. You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average, and up to 3% in some cases, by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, according to fueleconomy.gov.
Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer, according to the fuel economy site.
Cutlip has owned Regal Auto Care Tire Pros in the Puget Sound region for almost five years. He said the best thing about Tire Pros is the stores are all local, independently owned, and work together in a national franchise network. With over 600 stores nationwide, warranties and auto services are covered around the country no matter what store you visit. Tire Pros offers a nationwide tire protection plan that comes with free flat repairs, tire replacement, and free tows.
“We have a mom-and-pop feel type of shop,” he said. “Chances are you’re going to talk to the owner when you visit a Tire Pros. We provide down-home, higher customer service, national franchise level of pricing, warranties, and product availability. Most Tire Pros also offer complete auto repair and maintenance as well as tires, like oil changes, brakes, and large engine repair.”
We hope this answered all your tire maintenance questions. If you have other tire care questions, like how to make your tires last longer, or what to remember when you replace your tires, be sure to check out our other blogs!