Tires 101: How to Properly Care for Your Tires

American Tire Distributors (ATD) is one of the largest independent suppliers of tires to the replacement tire market. We operate more than 140 distribution centers, including 25 distribution centers in Canada, serving approximately 80,000 customers across the U.S. and Canada. With more than 80 years of experience, we know a thing or two about tires and we want you to be safe every time you get behind the wheel.

People are always looking for more time in the day so they can get the most out of it. Well, we want you to get the most out of your tires and that begins with properly caring for them. Here’s some information and helpful tips in order to help you care for your tires.

Proper Tire Inflation

To ensure your tires are safe to drive and handle the road ahead, we recommend checking your tire pressure at least once a month. The pressure in a tire can increase in warm weather and decrease in cold weather roughly 1–2 pounds per square inch (psi) per 10 degrees. The recommended tire pressure can be found on the informational placard located either on your vehicles door edge, doorpost, glove box or within the fuel door. This is also be located in the vehicle owner’s manual.

Driving on an under-inflated tire can cause damage to the tire sidewall and ultimately lead to overall tire failure. Driving on an over-inflated tire can also cause damage to the overall tire by a sudden impact from hitting an object in the road or a pothole. The life of the tire and the vehicle’s fuel consumption can change dramatically if your tires are under/over inflated, so it’s important not only for your vehicle and tires, but also for your wallet that you check your tire pressure often.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), TPMS detects loss of inflation pressure and warns drivers when tires are 25% under-inflated. For many vehicles, this warning may be too late to prevent damage. TPMS is not a replacement for monthly tire pressure checks with a gauge.

Tread Depth

This is the measurement from the outer part of the tire to the deepest groove of the rubber compound on the tire. You can pick up a tire tread measuring tool from your local automotive store that will give you an accurate reading of the depth. Here in the U.S., this depth is measured in 32nds of an inch. Depending on the tire, this typically starts at 12/32 or 10/32 for a brand new tire. Hercules Tires has put together a helpful chart that informs you percentage of usable tread remaining according to the depth.

When the tread is worn down to 2/32, this is considered legally worn out in most states and you should look to replace your tires. When your tires are noticeably worn down, another way to check the depth of your tread is the penny test.

Proper Storage

Depending on your climate, you may have a set of summer tires and a set of winter tires, or a set of road tires and racing tires. If you use more than one set of tires, we recommend properly storing them when they’re not in use to ensure you get every last mile out of them.

When storing tires, you want to be sure to clean them before storing. Chemicals and other build ups that your tires pick up from the road can cause damage to the rubber compound. After you clean your tires, you’ll want to be sure they are completely dry and many manufacturers recommend not to use any tire dressing or gloss afterwards.

If you plan to store your tires for a period of time, we recommend storing them in large, dark, plastic bags similar to lawn and garden bags. This will keep them from the outside elements and from the sun wearing out the rubber compound.

If your tires are mounted on the rims and you have the wall space, you can hang them from a hook. This will take any added weight off the tire when being stored. If this option is not available, it’s better to store them upright rather than laying down, as stacking tires causes unnecessary stress over time. If you’re storing an entire vehicle, the constant weight on the tires can cause damage from sitting as well. We recommend moving the vehicle, if this is an option, to help relieve the stress on the tires.

From your friends at ATD, we want you to be prepared for the road ahead so you can thrive and drive into the future. Follow along our Tires 101 blog as we explore the world of tires.

Who we are as people is who we are as a company. We share the same values in the way we work with each other, our partners and our customers. We are ATD.