Tires are vastly improved compared to even just 20 or 30 years ago. Even so, they still wear out. Costing anywhere from $60 for cheap economy tires to well over $500 for a single high performance sport tire, they can be a very expensive maintenance item. Here is how you can make them last longer.
Air pressure is your tire’s friend. When tires are not properly inflated, all sorts of problems can happen. The low tire pressure causes the tire to deform as it is driven, causing excessive wear to the tread and sidewalls. Lack of pressure also causes poor grip, squealing at low speeds, and loss of gas mileage. Over-inflated tires suffer similar problems, and cause the center of the tread to wear out quickly. Properly air up your tires.
Tire rotation should be a regular part of your vehicle’s maintenance. Every time you have your oil changed, odds are your tires are due for rotating from front to back. Remember that most vehicles have more weight up front, due to the engine and more complex suspension and steering bits up front. If left without rotation, this weight will cause the front tires will wear out faster than the rear. However, if you swap them with the rear tires, and left and right sides, they will all wear evenly. Keep in mind directional tires have an arrow pointing the direction they should roll while driving. Don’t mess that up by putting a directional tire on backwards.
Take the junk out of your trunk. Tires have to support all the weight of the vehicle and everything in it, so as you increase the weight with your massive music collection, extra clothes and McDonald’s trash, realize it all has a detrimental effect on your tires. Think of it like your shoes. How quickly would your shoes wear out if you wore a 50 pound backpack all the time? Removing the weight gets your vehicle back to what the tires are rated for. Also, cleaning your vehicle will make it nicer for your passengers and gain you some lost mileage.
About the only maintenance you should leave to a professional in this area is a wheel alignment. Ever had a vehicle “pull” to one side of the road? Odds are that was due to incorrect wheel alignment. Essentially, an alignment adjusts the angles of the wheels relative to each other and the vehicle. Just as your shoes would wear out faster if you walked only on their outside edge, tires work in the same way. An alignment is inexpensive at most tire shops, and will adjust the wheels and tires to their correct angles.
While it’s in the shop, see if they offer a nitrogen service. Nitrogen is an inert gas that is more temperature stable than corrosive oxygen. This means no dry rotted tires, and less variation in pressure when the temperature changes suddenly. Sure, it will cost you a little bit, but if you ride your tires until they fall apart, nitrogen is well worth it.