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When and How to Maintain and Replace Your Car's Tires

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when to get new tiresYou know, of course, that your tires are important. But are you giving them the attention that you should? According to a recent car maintenance survey, 77% of cars need maintenance or repairs. So how do you know when to get new tires — and which ones should you use? Here are the basics of what you should know about your tires:

  1. Getting Tires Rotated
    Especially among young drivers, tire rotation is commonly neglected. But it’s important for several reasons. First of all, since the goal of tire rotation is to even out wear patterns on individual tires, regular tire rotation can make your tires last longer. Tire rotation also helps with handling on a car, ensuring that it doesn’t pull to one side or the other when you’re trying to steer. Tire rotation can even contribute to better gas mileage.The good news is that, unlike the dreaded auto repair estimates you get from shops regarding something like engine or transmission fixes, tire rotation is extremely affordable. Depending on where you bought your current tires, you may be able to get them rotated there for free. But even if you pay, it should be in the range of $20.
  2. Assessing Replacement Needs
    Even if you get your tires rotated every 3,000 to 7,000 miles, you’ll eventually need to replace them. You can know when to get new tires based on a few signs. The classic is the “penny test,” in which you insert a penny upside down into your tread. If Lincoln’s whole head remains visible, it’s time to change your tires (if you’re a numbers person, that means your tread depth should never be less than 1/16 of an inch).If you have newer tires, it’s likely they have a tread wear indicator built in. This is a strip that’s barely visible when your tires are installed — when a thin bar appears, it’s time for a new set. Of course, obvious signs of damage, such as cracks or blisters, also mean it’s time.
  3. Choosing the Right Tires
    With over 87,000 auto repair shops in the United States, how can you decide where to buy tires and get them installed? Some places will offer bigger selections than others, but there are a few things you should always look out for, such as a range of prices. The first thing to do is look at either your tire itself or the owner’s manual to find your tire size. However, deciding to replace a tire with a larger or smaller size can have some positive results (ask your technician for specifics) as long as the tire is still rated for the weight of your vehicle and the speeds at which you generally drive.At some places, you’ll get a choice between new and used tires. New tires are always your best bet, but there are plenty of used tires with life left in them. Just be sure to inspect carefully, checking more than tread depth. Separation is a particularly bad sign. Also be sure to buy from a trustworthy dealer, since some used tires have dry rot and can become a driving safety hazard.

 
Do you have any more tips to share on when to get new tires? Join the discussion in the comments.