Winter is on its way out and your tires couldn’t be happier. After a punishing few months of driving through snow, ice, salt, and grit, they can use a little extra tender loving care. Consider these ways to prepare your car for spring, and ensure it keeps rolling smoothly.
If You Have Them, Swap Out Your Winter Tires
Most cars come equipped with all-season tires. However, if you live in a place that’s particularly hard-hit during winter, a good set of snow tires can get you out of some bad situations. As spring approaches, take off your tires during the thaw. Clean them thoroughly (inside and out) and let them dry. Make sure they’re covered and stacked somewhere cool, dry, and out of the sun. Humidity and sunlight can damage tires as much as snow, salt, and ice!
Inspect Them for Damage
Tires can become damaged in several subtle to not-so-subtle ways. Check the treads first using the penny test. Turn a penny upside-down, then stick it in-between the treads. If you can see any part of President Lincoln’s head your treads are wearing out. Look at the sidewalls too, searching for signs of wear and tear, bulges, cracks, cupping, scalloping, areas that seem flatter than others, and, naturally, any sharp objects sticking out of the tire.
Maintain the Proper Pressure
The absolute best way to take care of your tires is to ensure the air pressure remains at the proper levels. Pick up a tire pressure gauge if you don’t have one. Then, look at the sticker inside the driver’s side door. You’ll find the proper air pressure level there, though most cars require an average level of 30 to 35 psi. Keep in mind that temperature has a huge effect on tire pressure, with cold temps making psi drop and high temps driving them up. Weekly monitoring is a good idea, so you can adjust as need be.
Is It Time To Bring It in?
One of the best ways to prepare your car for spring is to have a professional inspect it. Tires last, at best, six years. In that time, you should take them to your mechanic for rotation, realignment, and general inspections. You should you’re your tires rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, and your wheels aligned every two to three years. Of course, if your inspection turns up any obvious and dangerous wear, bring them in—especially after a hard winter. Rotation and alignment help your tires last longer by ensuring they all wear evenly. This can also reveal other potential and not immediately obvious issues.