For most people, summer is all about going out and having fun. This means a lot of extra time spent on your tires. As you get out there during these summer months, don’t forget proper vehicle maintenance should be a part of your routine. Hot weather can be especially hard on your tires, so we’ve prepared these tips to keep your summer riding smooth.

Know the Basics

The three most basic steps of tire maintenance include inflation, rotation, and evaluation.

Inflation— Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and knowing your tires’ PSI can help keep you safe. You can usually find the proper PSI for your specific tires on the sticker in the driver’s door jamb or in your owner’s manual. Typically, passenger car tires are recommended to have between 32 and 35 PSI when cool. Always check your tire pressure when your tires are cool, as driving heats up the tires and can cause inaccurate readings.

It is recommended to check your tires at least once a month. Normal wear and tear will cause your tires to lose some pressure and knowing if your tires are low is very important. Driving on over- or underinflated tires can cause damage that may lead to tire failure, uneven wear, handling issues, and stopping issues. Another good tip is to always check your tire pressure before a long trip or before hauling a heavy load, as proper tire inflation can impact your gas mileage.

Rotation— You should balance and rotate your tires according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation, or, approximately every 5,000 miles driven, to ensure even wear. Even wear is important for maintaining how your car drives. It is also beneficial to occasionally check your vehicle’s alignment; bad wheel alignment can also lead to uneven or irregular wear.

To best balance tread wear and maximize tire life, use a cross-rotation pattern for non-directional tires. Which tires will cross from right to left will depend on whether your vehicle is front- or rear-wheel drive. FWD vehicles use a forward cross pattern, where RWD and AWD vehicles use a rearward cross pattern. Directional tires are designed specifically for the right and left sides of a vehicle and these can only be rotated front to back.

tire rotation

Evaluation—Always check your tires for signs of tread wear and for damage. Normal tread wear happens over the course of a tire’s life, and it’s important to know when it is time to change them. Tire tread is measured in 32nds of an inch, with normal ranges between 9/32 and 11/32 for most new, all-season passenger tires. To check the tread on your tires, you can use a tread depth gauge or the common “penny test”.

The penny test can tell you when your tires are worn or bad, and can be performed using either a penny or a quarter in the United States. To check your tires, insert the coin between your tire’s tread upside down. With a quarter, if your tread comes to the top of Washington’s head, the depth is approximately 4/32, which means your tires are worn and you should start planning for their replacement. With a penny, if Lincoln’s head is completely visible, your tread depth is approximately 2/32. This is a sign that your tires need replacing as soon as possible. Tire tread affects traction, which helps keep you safe in many situations. Most states require you to replace your tires at 2/32 tread depth, and, in some cases, you can even be ticketed if you fail to comply.

Even if your tires pass the penny test, they may not be roadworthy, as many factors can lead to tire damage, especially in the summer. Make sure you regularly check your tires for abnormal wear and chunking, along with cuts, cracks, bulges and punctures. High temperatures can heat the roads to as much as 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which in turn can heat tires beyond their designated heat rating possibly leading to blow-outs. There also seems to be more potholes on the roads in summer, which can cause any number of damages such as tire punctures and bent or damaged wheels.

The Bottom Line

Don’t let tire issues keep you out of the heat this summer. Practicing proper maintenance can keep you rolling right along, but, if it’s more than just your tires keeping you off the streets, Drivers Lane can help. We match people in lower credit situations to dealers that can provide vehicle and financing options based on their requirements. Take the first steps toward your next vehicle by filling out our auto loan request form today.