When it’s time
INCORPORATING the following service
tips into your automotive maintenance
routine will help you and others on the
road stay safe.
• Most tire failures occur when
tires are underinflated, so check tire
pressure weekly (including the spare).
• Use a high-quality digital or dial
gauge for the most accurate tire pressure readings.
• Replace tires with premium-quality factory-recommended tires or
• Use the vehicle manufacturer’s
inflation specifications displayed on the
car’s door jamb label or in the owner’s
manual. These sources also note the
proper tire sizes for your vehicle.
• Adjust the pressure accordingly
when the tires are cold, because
warmed-up and recently driven-on tires
can experience air expansion, causing
higher tire pressure readings.
• Look for any obvious signs of
damage, such as sidewall cuts, bubbles, exposed cord or smooth patches
between tread rows (called wear bars),
that would call for tire replacement.
• If sudden changes in your vehicle’s ride or handling develop, get a
professional inspection immediately.
• Tire rotations should be performed every 6,000 to 8,000 miles
(check your owner’s manual). This is
done by moving the rear tires to the
front and the front tires to the rear,
which maximizes uniform wear.
• Request a tire inspection at tire
rotation time. This service is invaluable,
as it may reveal other potential tire
problems that are undetectable during
a basic pressure check or evaluation.
• Tire age is an important consideration in determining tire replacement.
As tires age, the bonding of internal
components such as steel and polyester
cord is prone to pull apart, causing
tread separation. Close inspection of
all tires (including the spare) more than
five years old should occur annually,
and tires 10 or more years beyond the
date of manufacture must be replaced,
as they are no longer deemed safe.—CL
Good tires can save you
money and save your life
By Cary Lockwood
DRIVING ON WORN;OUT or low-grade
tires is dangerous. The National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration estimates that
more than 400 fatalities and 10,000 injuries
occur each year due to tire failures.
If it’s time for you to replace the tires on
your car, Kurt Berger, the manager of consumer products engineering for Bridgestone
Tire, offers several critical points to consider
before you select your next set of tires.
Tires with the same size and rating as the
factory-equipped tires, Berger says, are an
excellent choice when it’s time to replace them.
They offer the same braking, handling, traction, durability and load requirements your
car was designed to provide. To maintain the
vehicle’s handling, traction and balance, tire
replacement should be done in full sets.
Higher-grade tires use the latest technology in tread design and construction, providing optimum tread life, ride, traction, fuel
economy and vehicle safety. These benefits
suffer with a lesser-grade economy tire, especially where tread life and fuel economy are
concerned. Cheap tires wind up costing drivers much more in the long term.
The type of tires you buy should be suited
to the conditions of your environment. In
harsher environments a mud and snow tire
is much better suited for winter traction. All-terrain tires are designed with a thicker tread
for off-road traction, but they come at the
expense of high-speed handling. High-performance tires are superior for dry pavement traction and handling, but don’t perform
especially well in snow. All-season tires are
designed to keep you on the road all year, but
they don’t perform as well in the snow as snow
tires. There are trade-offs with each type of
tire, so analyze the conditions you drive in.
If you’re unsure about the tread life of
your current tires (including your spare tire),
visit a tire replacement facility and have them
all inspected. With proper inspection, selection and care, your tires will provide you with
many miles of safe traveling regardless of the
climate and road conditions, and keep you
safe on the road as you travel through the concrete jungle. C
Columnist Cary Lockwood has been in the
auto industry for more than 30 years.
Ratio of height to width
Width of tire in
Diameter of wheel in inches
Load index and speed symbol
U.S. DOT safety standard code
DAVID W. SCHNEIDER
and temperature grades
and materials used
Costco members will find a selection of
Bridgestone, BF Goodrich and Michelin tires
at Costco Tire Centers and special-order tires
and rims on Costco.com.