Blog Car Care Advice DIY Tire Care: 6 Things You Can Do to Extend Tire Life
Car Care Advice

DIY Tire Care: 6 Things You Can Do to Extend Tire Life

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Your tires are the only thing contacting the ground when you’re driving. 
So, if they aren’t in great shape, your drive will undoubtedly reflect that condition. 

Well-maintained tires are essential for safety, fuel efficiency, and prolonging their lifespan, and there are several things you can DIY for tire care. 

Ready to learn how to keep your tires rolling smoothly? 
Keep reading. 

1. Do a Visual Inspection of Your Tires

Inspecting your tires is simple and can save you from bigger trouble down the road. 

Start with a visual check—look for cuts, punctures, or objects stuck in the tread. Dirt and grime are normal, but if it’s a deep scratch you can’t remove, that might lead to issues later. Don’t forget to examine the sidewalls for cracks or bulges, as these can indicate internal damage. 

Next, check the tread depth with a Lincoln penny. Insert it into the tread with Lincoln’s head faced downwards. If you can see the top of his head, it’s probably time for new tires. Some newer tires may have “wear bars.” If your treads are even with these bars, you’ll need new tires. 

2. Ensure Your Tires Have the Correct Pressure

Having your tires at the correct pressure is vital for safety and fuel efficiency. Use a reliable air pressure gauge and check your tire pressure monthly—it’s quick and easy. You should also check the pressure before long trips to avoid surprises on the road.

To find out recommended pressure levels, look inside your car’s driver-side door frame (there’s usually a decal that states the value) or the owner’s manual. 
Important: Don’t confuse this with the pressure stated on your tire sidewall—this is the maximum cold pressure a tire can handle. 

Then, inflate your tires to the correct value so they wear evenly and help you get optimum gas mileage. Don’t forget the spare; it’s often overlooked but equally vital. 

3. Clean and Protect Your Tires Often

Cleaning your tires regularly and adding a layer of protection will keep them looking good, prevent premature wear, and function well. 

Use mild detergent and water to remove dirt, grime, and brake dust that can degrade the rubber over time. Here are some other household items to create a cleaner: lemon juice and water in equal parts, with a tablespoon of baking soda. Spray this mixture on the tires, scrub, and rinse with water.

After cleaning, apply a tire protectant to shield against UV damage and cracking. 

4. Get Your Tires Rotated

Rotating your tires every 5,000 miles or so allows for even tread wear and extends tire life. Uneven tread wear can create a rough ride and reduce fuel efficiency.  

Your tire rotation pattern will depend on your tire size, tire type (whether it’s directional or not), and whether you have rear-wheel drive (RWD), front-wheel drive (FWD), or all-wheel drive (AWD).

A. Staggered Tire Size

If your front tires are a different size than the rear, you can only swap them side-to-side—meaning the left and right sides switch on the same axle.

B. Same Size, Directional Tires

The treads on directional tires are optimized for one direction, so you should swap them front to back — where each front tire is switched with the same side back tires.

C. Same Size, Non-Directional Tires

Non-directional tires have treads that can roll either way, so you should rotate them based on the drivetrain: 

Regular tire rotation ensures all tires share the load equally, so you can use them longer. 

5. Get Wheel Alignment and Balancing Done

Regular alignment and balancing checks help maintain optimal handling, fuel efficiency, and a smooth, safe ride. 

Wheel alignment is a vehicle suspension adjustment that prevents your car from veering to the left or right. Meanwhile, balancing helps distribute weight evenly across your tires, preventing vibrations and extending tire life.  

Alignment and balancing aren’t easily DIYed, but you can often tell if you need it, like if your steering wheel starts to vibrate or if your car veers to one side when it’s supposed to go straight. In these instances, let professional mechanics help you out.

(For professional help right in your driveway, why not contact AutoNation Mobile Service?)

6. Seasonal Considerations to Keep in Mind

Adjusting your tires based on the seasons ensures optimal tire performance year-round. Consider switching to winter tires in colder climates for better traction on snow and ice.  

Keep your tires in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent dry rot and deterioration. Proper storage extends their lifespan and maintains their integrity for future use. Before reinstalling seasonal tires, inspect them for any damage or uneven wear.