Helpful Tire Tips From Wichita Tire & Alignment 

Q: How often should I check my tire pressure?
A:  You should check your tire pressure at least once a month and before going on a long trip. Ideally, make it a habit to check your tires every time you fill up your gas tank. Tire pressure should be measured when tires are cold – when you have driven less than a mile. Otherwise, your tires may heat up, increasing the inflation pressure inside them by several pounds. This is normal. Never “bleed” or reduce the inflation pressure in a hot tire. Also, don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare tire at the same time.

Q: What is the correct air pressure for my tires?
A: There is no universal “right” pressure for all tires. The proper inflation level will depend on your vehicle and it may even be different for your front and back tires. To find the correct pressure for your tires, look at the tire information placard that’s mounted inside the frame of the driver’s door, in the glove box or inside the fuel door. You can also get that information in your vehicle owner’s manual and from your tire service professional.  It’s also a good idea to have your own gauge, because you can’t always count on the gauge on the inflation hose at the gas station. According to a study, less than half the service stations with inflation pumps provide a tire pressure gauge for customer use. Even if there is one, it may not be accurate—about 20 percent of the gauges on station pumps are damaged or off by 4 psi (28 kPa) or more.

Q: How often should I check my wheel alignment?
A: Wheel alignment and balancing are important for safety and maximum tread wear from your tires. Inspect your tires regularly: at least once a month. Inspect your tires closely for signs of uneven wear. Uneven wear patterns may be caused by improper inflation pressure, misalignment, improper balance or suspension neglect. If not corrected, further tire damage will occur.  If any of these conditions exist, the cause may often be corrected at Wichita Tire & Alignment. 

Q: How important is it that I rotate my tires?
A: Rotation is important because each tire on a car carries a different amount of weight, making them wear at different rates. By rotating them, you basically even out those differences. As a rule of thumb, rotation should be done every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. You might want to rotate them sooner if you see signs of uneven wear. 

Q: What should I look for when inspecting my tires?
A: In addition to performing regular maintenance, you must also keep an eye out for potential problems that might affect your tires. Regular inspections can help you prevent tire trouble, and keep you rolling safely down the road. When inspecting your tires, look for:

  • Uneven tread wear. This can include more wear on one tread edge than the other, a rippled pattern of high and low wear, or exposed steel wire. Uneven wear can be caused by problems such as under inflation, misalignment and improper balancing.
  • Shallow tread. Bald tires tend to skid and slide on the pavement, and are more likely to be damaged by potholes and other road hazards. The tread on your tire should be at least 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) tread depth everywhere on the tread face. If it isn’t, the tire must be replaced. To help you see tread problems, tires have built-in “tread wear indicators.” These are narrow bars of smooth rubber that run across the tread: When any portion of the tread is even with the bars, it is worn down to the minimum level and must be replaced immediately. You can also try the penny test: place a penny in the tire’s most worn groove with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tire should be replaced.
  • Troublemakers. Check for small stones, pieces of glass, bits of metal and other foreign objects that might be wedged into the tread, and carefully pick them out. They can cause serious problems if they are pushed farther into your tire as you drive.
  • Damaged areas. Cracks, cuts, splits, punctures, holes and bulges in the tread or on the sides of the tire can indicate serious problems, and the tire may need to be replaced.
  • Slow leaks. Tires lose some inflation pressure (about 2 psi or 14 kPa) over the course of a month or so, but if you find that you have to add inflation pressure every few days, have the tire, wheel and valve checked—and if necessary, repair or replace the tire.
  • Valve caps. Those little caps on your tire’s valve stem keep moisture and dirt out, so make sure they are on all your tires. Also, when you have a tire replaced, have a new valve stem assembly installed at the same time. Driving on a damaged tire can be dangerous. If you see something you’re not sure about during your inspection, have it examined by your tire service professional. Any time you see damage to a tire, don’t drive on it—use a spare if you need to go somewhere. And finally, pay attention to the “feel” of your tires as you drive. A rough ride may indicate tire damage or excessive wear. If you notice vibrations or other disturbances while driving, and/or you suspect possible damage to your tire or vehicle, immediately reduce speed, drive with caution until you can safely pull off the road and stop, and inspect your tires. If a tire is damaged, deflate it and replace it with your spare. If you do not see any tire damage and cannot identify the source of the vibration, have the vehicle towed to a mechanic or tire retailer for a thorough inspection.

Wichita Tire & Alignment  –  4460 South Seneca, Wichita, KS, 67217  –   (316) 522-2919  –  [email protected]  –