Proper tire maintenance is essential to your vehicle's overall performance and your driving safety. Learn quick and easy techniques to maintain proper inflation, schedule tire rotation and measure tread depth. Simply remember to Inflate, Rotate and Evaluate!

The single greatest cause of tire damage is improper inflation. Your tires lose pressure over time, which causes unnecessary stress, early and irregular tread wear, and poor gas mileage. Plus, tires can't deliver their best performance without the right air pressure.

To find the proper air pressure for your tires you'll need to consult your car's owner's manual. Your automaker takes into account several important factors when determining the right inflation level for your car and tire combination. You should never let your tires' air pressure fall below the recommended level. The sidewall of your tire indicates a maximum pressure figure; however, this number does not indicate the proper inflation level for your specific car. Rather, it indicates a top pressure that you must not exceed for any reason.

Ideally, you should have your tires rotated every 5,000 miles, more frequently if you do most of your driving around town or if you own a front-wheel drive car.

You can prevent unnecessary damage by getting to know your tires. When getting into and out of your car, look at your tires. This will make it easier for you to spot problems. You should also listen to your tires. When you turn a corner at normal speeds, do you hear a squealing sound? If so, one or more of your tires may be low on air. Also, pay attention to how your car feels when you move the steering wheel. Changes may be due to tire problems that need attention.

How can I check to see if my tire tread depth is adequate?
  1. Take a penny and pinch Abe's body between your thumb and forefinger.

  2. Put his head into the grooves of the tread at the point on your tire where the tread is the lowest.

  3. If any part of his head is obscured by the tread, you're driving within the legal guidelines. If you can see above his head where it says "in God we trust" it means you are ready for a new set of tires.

Alignment describes a combination of several different angles and relative positions of a wheel and tire. Proper alignment is needed to ensure that a car rolls and steers easily and predictably. Improper alignment may be felt by the car's pulling to one side, wandering, or by uneven tread wear on one or more of the tires. Misalignment can result in a major repair bill if not corrected. In addition to damaged tires, your car's suspension system can be damaged. If you suspect you're having a problem with treadwear or handling, you should have your alignment checked.