Without tires, your vehicle is pretty much useless. And when you think about it, it’s kind of incredible that something inflatable and hollow can not only hold a very heavy hunk of metal and passengers without bursting, but can actually carry them for thousands and thousands of miles reliably. But there’s more to tires than burst or not burst, and there’s a lot of area in between where the tire tread begins to wear regularly or irregularly, bringing you ever closer to inevitable replacement. Does your driving style affect the rate of wear? You bet it does! Here are a few ways to drive smarter.
Channel Your Inner Driver’s Ed Teacher
If your tires are wearing quickly, it could be because you have confused yourself with a race car driver. It happens! In reality though, you (likely) are not, and your tires (probably) aren’t made for that kind of driving. Know that super awesome tire squeal when you peel out from the driveway? Yeah … you are literally burning rubber and doing damage to your treads. That tight, fast cornering? Again, you’re not only leaving layers of tire on the road, but you’re more likely to cut it too close and damage the tire’s sidewall or rim. And the sidewall can’t take as much abuse as the tread, so it’s all the more dangerous.
Channel Your Parents
Slow down already! Long distance highway driving is generally the best kind of miles you can put on a vehicle, but if you’re going extra fast, you build extra heat, which expedites tire wear. And while you’re at it, take time to slow down. Hard braking is terrible for your whole vehicle, wheels included. If you’re city driving, you are already putting your vehicle at a slight disadvantage over highway driving, so make it as easy as possible and let off the accelerator well before the stop if you can manage it. Also, watch the road! If you can’t avoid obstacles like potholes and speed bumps altogether, at least go over them slowly. Otherwise, you risk major tire damage.
Channel Your Inner Mechanic
First, it’s important to keep your vehicle and tires clean. There are many reasons for this, but one is so that you can more readily identify tire wear and notice if you’ve got something stuck in the tread. Get your wheels aligned and balanced as recommended, and keep all tires at the correct pressure. Over and under inflated tires both have adverse side effects, too, so ensuring your tires are properly inflated is crucial to maintaining their tread. Check your tires’ tread using a gauge to ensure they still have an appropriate amount of tread to keep you safe.
Basically, take care of your tires and they’ll take care of you. If you feel any shaking or pulling while driving, or you can actually see wear, cracks, pits, or even chords, get to a shop immediately for a change.
Some things might be harder to avoid, such as consistently towing a heavy load. This will expedite tire wear, but if you must, you must. There’s plenty still well within your control to get more out of your tires. Reinvent your driving style to drive mindfully, take good care of your vehicle, and keep an eye on things. Your tires will thank you.
Check out all the steering and suspension parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about what your tire tread says about your driving styling, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.