Following summer tire maintenance tips is a must. In this heat, the last thing you want to have to deal with is a flat tire. Maintaining tires year round is important. It is especially important during the summer months because heat causes rubber to break down faster. Being continually aware of the tire status is a good way to stay safe and prevent premature wear, a flat tire, or a blowout. In order for tires to perform the way they were intended, tires must have the correct air pressure, balance, tread depth and the wheels must be properly aligned.
Summer Tire Maintenance Tips
Tire Tread Inspection
Tires rely on good tread depth to maintain traction on the road, especially in inclement weather. There are several easy ways to check a tire’s tread depth:
- Penny Test
The penny test is a simple way to check your tires tread. Turn the penny so that Lincoln’s head is pointing down into the tread. If the top of his head disappears, then tread is fine. If not, the tread is not deep enough and it may be time to replace the tire.Be sure to check multiple spots around each tire and pay attention to the spots that look the most worn. Although consistent wear around the tire is normal, uneven wear could be a sign of improper inflation or wheel misalignment. D.O.T. minimum requirements are 2/32″ but shuold be reaplced at 3/32″.
- Tread Depth Gauge
Tire depth gauges are inexpensive and easy to use. They are available at any auto parts store. To figure out the tread depth, stick the probe into a groove and press the shoulders of the probe against the tread block and read the result.
- Tread Wear Indicator Bars
Every tire comes equipped with tread wear indicator bars between the ribs of the tire. If the tread is flush with the indicator bars, it is time to replace the tire.
- Checking, Splits, and Cracks
Continue to check the sidewalks on tires for cracks and splits. They are generally caused by lack of use, age, and exposure to the sun. Also look for cuts from foreign objects. These signs are significant causes for blowouts, resulting in property damage and often serious injury.
Summer Tire Pressure Check
Keeping tires properly inflated is one of the easiest ways to maintain good gas mileage and prolong the life of your tires. It is recommended that tire pressure (psi) be checked at least once a week with a tire gauge, which can be found at any auto parts store. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended pressure.
Checking the tire air pressure takes only five steps and just a few minutes.
Step 1: Remove tire valve cap
Step 2: Place gauge over the valve stem and press firmly until no air is escaping. The gauge will then indicate how much pressure is in the tire.
Step 3: Adjust the air pressure as needed. When adding air, push the air hose firmly into the valve, similar to checking the tire pressure. Be sure to check the pressure often during filling to make sure the tire doesn’t get overfilled.
Step 4: Replace the valve cap
Step 5: Repeat process for each tire, including the spare.
Additional Summer Tire Maintenance Tips
Setting aside a few minutes a month to spend with your tires can protect the driver, improve truck performance and extend the life of the tires. Remember to keep these summer tire maintenance tips in mind when preparing your truck for the summer heat.
- Keep tires inflated to the recommended level. This level can be found in the owner’s manual or on the vehicle placard. Maintaining proper inflation is one of the key factors in promoting tire durability and extending the tread life. Under-inflation is the leading cause of tire failures and blowouts.
- Check tires frequently for damage. Look for cuts, cracks, bulges, air loss, and other abnormalities and look for unusual wear patterns. Early detection provides ample time for problem correction, extending the tire life.
- Keep truck properly aligned. Keeping a regular alignment schedule will help prevent irregular wear and positively influence fuel consumption. Make sure to also keep the tires rotated at maximum intervals of 6,000 miles.
- Don’t overload. Overloading puts unnecessary stress on the tires and other aspects of the vehicle, which can lead to more repairs down the road. Make sure to check the rating on the tires to determine the truck’s load limits. Multiply the weight rating by the number of tires to determine the overall weight. The overall total weight should be at least equal to the GVW or greater. Caution: Do not load the truck above the GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT rating on the truck.
Kirk Booth is the Service Manager of Truck-N-Trailer, a family owned and operated shop dedicated to providing the best medium and light duty delivery and work trucks, vans, and services to fit the individual needs of its customers. He provides excellent service to his customers for over 13 years. Kirk has 25 years in the automotive industry and his technicians (and himself) hold many factory training certifications. They take pride in being a “One Stop Shop.”