Inflation Pressure

It’s important to have the proper inflation pressure in your tires, as underinflation can lead to tire failure or your tire to wear unevenly. You can't tell if your tires have enough inflation pressure just by looking at them. Even though they may look fine, they may be underinflated by as much as 50%.

The inflation pressure indicated on a tire sidewall is the maximum pressure allowed for the tire. It is not intended as a guide for normal inflation pressure. The proper inflation pressure continues to be what is clearly stated in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and/or on the vehicle placard found on the driver’s side doorjamb, glove box or fuel door.

 

Follow these steps to check your tire inflation pressure:

  1. When you check the inflation pressure, make sure the tires are cool — meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile. (If you have to drive a distance to get inflation, check and record the tire pressure first and add the appropriate inflation pressure when you get to the pump. It is normal for tires to heat up and the inflation pressure inside to increase as you drive. Never “bleed” or reduce inflation pressure when tires are hot.)
  2. Remove the cap from the valve on one tire.
  3. Firmly press a tire gauge onto the valve.
  4. Add inflation to achieve recommended inflation pressure.
  5. If you overfill the tire, release inflation by pushing on the metal stem in the center of the valve with a fingernail or the tip of a pen. Then recheck the inflation pressure with your tire gauge.
  6. Replace the valve cap.
  7. Repeat with each tire, including the spare. (NOTE: Some spare tires require higher inflation pressure).
  8. Visually inspect the tires to make sure there are no nails or other objects embedded that could poke a hole in the tire and cause an inflation pressure leak.
  9. Check the sidewalls to make sure there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.

 

Learn more about tire safety.

Alignment

A bad jolt from hitting a curb or pothole can throw your front end out of alignment and damage your tires. Have a tire service professional check the alignment periodically, especially if you are experiencing pulling or vibrations, to ensure that your car is properly aligned. Misalignment of wheels in the front or rear can cause uneven and rapid treadwear and should be corrected by a tire service professional.

Also have your tire balance checked periodically. An unbalanced tire and wheel assembly may result in irregular tire wear and vehicle vibration.

Learn about tire safety.

Tread

Another critical part of your tire is the tread, which gives you the traction to stop and hold the road on curves. Tire tread also funnels water out from under the tire, which helps to reduce hydroplaning, where a car actually rides up on a layer of water and becomes dangerously difficult to steer or stop. Well-worn or bald tires can result in hydroplaning, loss of traction and are more likely to be damaged by potholes and other road hazards.

Replace tires when worn to 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) tread depth anywhere on the tread face. To help you see when the tread is worn out, tires have a built in "tread wear indicators" at six locations around the tire. These are narrow bars of smooth rubber that run across the tread.

When the tread is even with the bars, a tire is worn down to 2/32 inch and the tire must be replaced immediately.

You can also try the penny test. 2/32 of an inch deep and can be checked by inserting a U.S. penny into the tread, with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point, it is time to replace the tire.

In addition to wear out, if any of the following conditions below are found when inspecting a tire, rim/wheel or valve, the tire should be replaced.

  • Localized spot wear
  • Exposed cord or fabric material
  • Unrepairable punctures
  • Previous improper repairs
  • Bulges, blisters
  • Deep cuts/cracks
  • Run flat damage
  • Bent, cracked, corroded or damaged rim/wheel
  • Damaged valve and/or valve core

Consult a tire service professional with any questions or concerns regarding tire, rim/wheel or valve conditions.

 

Learn about tire safety.

Rotation

Rotating your tires – switching their position to avoid uneven wear – is important. Rotating tires helps tires to wear evenly and last longer You can slow down potential uneven treadwear by rotating your tires every 5,000 - 8,000 miles. You should follow the rotational pattern or process that’s detailed in your car’s warranty or owner’s manual. There are various patterns for rotating tires, and the tread pattern of the tire impacts the manner in which you can rotate your tires--from front to back, or from rotating the tires to all four corners of the vehicle. Tires that are cross-rotational compatible can be rotated to all four corners of the vehicle. The cross rotational ability of the tire aids in the ability of the tire to wear evenly, helping to promote a quiet ride and deliver long lasting performance. Tires that can only be rotated in one direction may not last as long as those tires that can be cross rotated.

 

Learn about tire safety.