Tips on Car Tires, Wheels and Brakes

February 11, 2019

Tips on Car Tires, Wheels and Brakes

Check for Uneven Tire Wear

When tire inflation is maintained and you still suffer from uneven wear, it may indicate you need a wheel alignment. It can also indicate you have been improperly using your brakes, shock problems, internal tire damage, worn bushings, or a bent wheel.

Check Tire Tread

Different countries have different requirements pertaining to tread. In North America all tires sold must have “wear bars” molded into the tires. This makes it easy to know when tires must be legally replaced. The general rule of thumb is that when the tread is worn down to 1 1/16” or 1.5mm the tires need to be replaced.

Keep Caps on Valves

One small piece can cause so much grief. When the valve cap goes missing it can lead to a slow leak. These caps stop moisture and dirt from getting in. Check your valve caps often and make sure they are not damaged or missing. When you have tires replaced ask the shop to ensure the tires have new valves.

Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Make sure your tires are properly inflated. When tires are under-inflated it causes excessive heat and stress that can result in tire failure. To get the most life out of your tires, invest in a pressure gauge so that you can check your tires regularly. Once a month is recommended, but during hot weather it should be more often. For an accurate reading check when vehicle has been driven less than one mile and when the tires are cold. Inflate according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

Do the Wet Thumb Test

When you are using a service station air pump before you being to put the air into your tire, depress the inflator valve pin with your thumbnail. You are checking for moisture. If your thumb becomes wet go into service station and let the staff know the tank needs to be drained. Find a different service station. Why is this so important? Well because if that moisture gets trapped in the tire it can lead to variations in the tire pressure and it can also corrode rims.

Rotate Your Tires

Regular tire rotation aids in tires wearing evenly and it will lead to the maximum tire life. Your first rotation is very important. Your owner’s manual will provide you with a rotation period and pattern. If you aren’t able to locate
this schedule then rotate your tires every 6000 to 7500 miles or 9700 to 12000km.

Temperature and Tire Inflation

Temperature affects tire pressure. When the temperatures drop or soar your tire pressure decreases. When tires are underinflated they can wear and faster and result in poor driving

Using Wheel Cleaner

Your wheels take a beating contacting with the road. Combine that with brake dust and you’ve got some tough stains to remove. Regular car wash soap just can’t remove this grime and grit. You need to use a cleaner that is specifically designed for stains. There are different wheel cleaner formulas for different wheel finishes such as chrome and aluminum. You can also add a layer of protection by using wheel polish on metal wheels, and wax on painted wheels.

Always Lubricate Your Lug Nuts

If you don’t occasionally lubricate your lug nuts they will seize to the studs as a result of corrosion. Repairs can be costly and if you have a flat tire you could find yourself in need of a tow. Each time you rotate your tires it’s a good idea to use an anti seize lubricant, which you can buy at your local automotive store. Use a wire brush to clean the studs then wipe the lubricant on. It’s formulated to stop lug nuts from seizing while at the same time stops them from working their way off while you are driving. If you do find yourself with a seized lug nut try spraying Liquid Wrench or WD-40 on the affected lug nut. Wait 10 to 30 minutes for it to penetrate. Then use your ratchet to remove the lug nut.

Stop the Loss of Hubcaps

How often have you been driving down the road, only to be passed by one of your hubcaps. Hubcaps become damaged, work themselves loose, or not reinstalled properly and can then dislodge themselves from your car. They can be expensive to replace. You can stop this from happening by:
  • Newer plastic hubcaps are held in place by a retaining wire ring that you snap into the wheel tables. Be careful not to bend or break these tables.
  • With the older metal hubcaps pry the metal clips just slightly outwards. This should take care of any issues.
  • Use a rubber mallet and tap gently as you go around the hubcap in a circular motion. Don’t hit too card because you’ll break the clips.
Have a Regular Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignments are important. When your wheels are not properly aligned your tires will wear out sooner, you’ll have poorer handling, and it can cause wear to the rack and pinion or other steering components. Refer to your owner’s manual for recommended schedule, otherwise at least once a year have your wheel alignment checked. If you have a 4x4 or you do a lot of off road or rough road have your wheel alignment checked more often. If your vehicle pulls to the right or left have your wheel alignment.

Top Off Your Brake Fluid

Each month you should check your brake fluid. Prior to opening the master cylinder lid wipe away any dusts. If you need to add fluid refer the manufacturer’s recommendations. You should never substitute fluids. For example, never use power steering fluid in place of brake fluid. Never use brake fluid that has been opened, because once it has been exposed to air it can quickly become contaminated.

Caring for Your Anti Lock Brakes

The anti lock brake system found in modern cars is sensitive to moisture, which can easily destroy the expensive ABS pump and cause the inside of the brake lines to rot. Since brake fluid tends to attract moisture every couple of years your brake lines should be bled. They will also be checked when you have your annual wheel alignment check. If you have a 4x4 or you spend a great deal of time off road have them checked more often.