Tires: A List of Common How To's

As a car owner, it is essential to know the what's and how's of basic car maintenance to increase the overall longevity of your vehicle. Good maintenance will mean lesser repair costs as well. Let's look at some basics of car care.

1. How To: Rotate Tires

Tires have varying degrees of wear due to position and usage. For instance, the front and rear tires of a car wear differently since the front carries more weight, which causes more wear than those at the rear. The right front tire wears faster than the left as there are, statistically, more right turns taken than lefts.

The uneven tread wear results in the need to rotate. In tire rotation, we equalize the wear patterns by switching the tires from one position to the other for safety, comfort and increased tire life. You can use a tire rotation service or follow these steps on how to rotate your tires.

  1. Always have the parking brake engaged to be safe.
  2. Loosen the lug nuts on all wheels; don't completely unscrew them. (This will make unscrewing them later easier.)
  3. Using the car jack, lift one wheel at a time and place the car jack stand underneath.
  4. Remove the tires and rotate depending on the tire type's appropriate pattern.
  5. Screw lug nuts back on by hand as far as you can after placing tire back on the wheel mount.
  6. Lower car from the jack stands and then tighten the lug nuts with a lug wrench. Use a diagonal star pattern, tightening the lug nuts diagonally to make sure they are evenly tightened.
  7. Repeat after every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

2. How To: Change Tires

Before attempting to change your tire, ensure that the following are observed:

  1. Safety first: Always change tires on a flat surface, never on a slope or incline.
  2. Stay off the road if possible. Turn on hazard lights if it’s dark and place an Early Warning Device on the ground, if you have one.
  3. Use handbrakes. Put the vehicle in gear for manual and in “park” if automatic.
  4. Use a wedge on either side of the wheel diagonally opposite to the one you are about to change.
  5. Make sure that there is no one inside the vehicle.

Once the above safety steps are set, follow these steps for how to change your tire:

  1. Remove the wheel cover or hubcap, if applicable.
  2. Loosen, but don't remove lug nuts with a wheel wrench. If the lug nut feels too tight, apply pressure to the wrench with your foot, but make sure that the wrench is in a horizontal position.
  3. Raise your car with the jack about 6 inches off the ground. Consult your car manual on the correct jack position if necessary.
  4. Remove the lug nuts by hand and store them in a safe place.
  5. Remove the wheel. Use both hands to pull it toward you and roll it to the side.
  6. Mount the spare tire on the lug hub, making sure the rim is lined with the lug bolts. Push the wheel in gently until the bolts show through the rim.
  7. Tighten the lug nuts by hand.
  8. Lower the vehicle from the jack then tighten the lug nuts again with the wrench using a clockwise motion. Use your body to push down on the lug wrench to ensure tightness.
  9. Lower your vehicle completely and remove the jack.
  10. Replace hubcap or wheel cover.

How To: Store Tires

How you store your off-season set of tires is very important to the performance and longevity of your set. You may have them professionally stored or simply store them in your garage. Follow these tips on easy storage to avoid deterioration due to improper storage, characteristic change, or improper handling, which will resort in a shorter tire lifespan.

  1. Ensure tires are clean. Remove road grime with some detergent, a water hose, and a tire brush. Wash the wheels too, if you are storing them as well. Make sure they are thoroughly dry before moving on to the next step.
  2. Fit each tire in a separate airtight plastic bag that is free of moisture, with as much air as possible removed then taped shut. There are specialized tire storage caddies or totes available, however, make sure they are airtight. If not, bag the tires first.
  3. Choose your location. Tires must be stored in a cool, moderately ventilated yet dry place (i.e. no sun, the least possible fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and precipitation).
  4. Keep chemicals and ozone-producing machinery away. Some electric motors that generate ozone are generators, compressors, central vacuum cleaners, and furnaces. Avoid storing with solvents, fuels, and lubricants.
  5. Store white parts rubber on white; black rubber on black to avoid marks.
  6. Store tires either upright, stacked on their sides, or if with rims, hung up on hooks or racks.

4. How To: Put Air in Tires

Be aware of the proper tire pressure to extend the life and performance of your tires, not to mention keep you safe on the road. The following are the steps of how to put air in tires, with a special note about what you should know about tires before you even experience a tire pressure problem.

  1. Keep an eye on the tire pressure sensor. Always check your tires when the red light alerts you.
  2. Know your recommended tire pressure beforehand. Check your owner's manual or the label, which might be either on the door frame, fuel door, or glove compartment door.
  3. Check tire pressure using a tire-pressure gauge. Unscrew the valve stem cap on your tire. Press the tire gauge in the stem. Press harder until the hissing sound stops then it will show you the tire pressure number in PSI (pounds per square inch).
  4. Remove all valve stem caps on tires that need air. Add air to the valves by attaching the compressor hose to the valve. Take care not to overfill, and if you do, release the excess by pushing the pin in the middle of the valve to let the air out.
  5. Recheck the PSI of the tire.
  6. Replace the valve caps.