Winter is here and that means snow-covered roads. You can reduce the risk of an accident by installing four winter tires and checking their pressure monthly. According to Transport Canada, vehicle handling improves when tires of the same type, size, speed rating and load index are installed on all four wheels.
Under-inflation is the number one enemy of a tire. By properly inflating and maintaining your tires, you will:
- Reduce fuel consumption
- Save on fuel costs
- Extend tire life
- Improve vehicle handling and safety
- Prevent avoidable breakdowns and collisions
- Reduce exhaust emissions that contribute to climate change
Monitor your tire pressure monthly:
- You can’t tell if your tires are underinflated or overinflated by just looking at them. Measure your tire pressure with a good quality air pressure gauge at least once a month.
- Pressure should be measured when the tires are cold. This means when the vehicle has been stationary for at least 3 hours or has not been driven more than 2 km.
- The vehicle placard that gives the proper tire inflation levels for your tires is usually attached to the driver’s door, the door post, the glove box or the fuel door. If you can’t find the label, check your owner’s manual.
- The maximum tire pressure marked on the tire sidewall refers to the pressure required to carry the maximum load of the tire. It’s generally not the same as the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for that particular vehicle.
How to inflate your tires:
- Find the recommended inflation pressure for your tires on the vehicle placard. The recommended tire pressure could be different for the front and rear tires.
- Measure tire inflation pressure. Remove cap from valve on one tire, press tire gauge onto valve and take pressure reading.
- Add air to achieve recommended air pressure. If you overfill the tire, release air by pushing on the metal stem in the centre of the valve, then recheck the pressure.
- Replace the valve cap and repeat with each tire, including the spare.
- If you must drive more than 2 km to an air pump, take your pressure reading before you leave and record it. Once you arrive at the air pump, take a second reading. Fill the tire to the recommended pressure level, adding the amount that was missing from the first reading.
- Caution: Never drive on a seriously underinflated tire.
- Over-inflation can be a problem, too. An overinflated tire rides on just the centre portion of the tread. This smaller contact area means reduced grip on the road, leading to a harsh ride, handling issues (such as steering and stopping problems) and increased wear on tires and suspension components.
As well as measuring your tires’ pressure once a month, you should also conduct a visual inspection regularly for damage and signs of excessive or uneven wear.
It’s a good idea to have your wheel alignment checked once a year. Symptoms of poor alignment are that the steering pulls to one side or there’s excessive wear on the inside or outside edges of the tire. If you are driving on straight and level ground and slowly release the steering wheel, your vehicle should continue to travel straight ahead. If it pulls to one side, its alignment could need adjusting.
Wheels should also be balanced. A vibration felt in the steering wheel suggests that the front wheel is out of balance (has an imbalance). A vibration felt in the driver’s seat usually means the rear wheel is out of balance (has an imbalance).
Rotate your tires according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation, found in the owner’s manual. Common practice is to rotate tires about every 10,000 km.
For more information about tire safety and maintenance, visit www.betiresmart.ca.