Honda Accord/Civic/Prelude 1973-1983 Repair Guide

Tires and Wheels



Tire inflation is the most ignored item of auto maintenance. Gasoline mileage can drop as much as 0.8% for every 1 psi of under inflation.

Two items should be a permanent fixture in every glove compartment: a tire pressure gauge and a tread depth gauge. Check the tire pressure (including the spare) regularly with a pocket type gauge. Kicking the tires won't tell you a thing, and the gauge on the service station air hose is notoriously inaccurate.

A plate located on the door or in glove box will tell the proper pressure for the tires. Ideally, inflation pressure should be checked when the tires are cool. When the air becomes heated it expands and the pressure increases. Every 10°F rise (or drop) in temperature means a difference of 1 psi, which also explains why the tire appears to lose air on a very cold night. When it is impossible to check the tires Cold , allow for pressure build-up due to heat. If the Hot pressure exceeds the Cold pressure by more than 15 psi, reduce vehicle speed, load or both. Otherwise internal heat is created in the tire. When the heat approaches the temperature at which the tire was cured, during manufacture, the tread can separate from the body.

Never counteract excessive pressure build-up by bleeding off air pressure (letting some air out). This will only further raise the tire operating temperature.

Before starting a long trip with lots of luggage, you can add about 2-4 psi to the tires to make them run cooler but never exceed the maximum inflation pressure on the side of the tire.


For maximum satisfaction, tires should be used in sets of five. Mixing of different types (radial, bias-belted, fiberglass belted) should be avoided.

Conventional bias tires are constructed so that the cords run bead-to-bead at an angle. This type of construction gives rigidity to both tread and sidewall.

Bias-belted tires are similar in construction to conventional bias ply tires. Belts run at an angle and also at a 90° angle to the bead, as in the radial tire. Tread life is improved considerably over the conventional bias tire. The radial tire differs in construction but instead of the carcass plies running at an angle of 90° to each other, they run at an angle of 90° to the bead. This gives the tread a great deal of flexibility and accounts for the characteristic bulge associated with radial tires.

If radial tires are used, tire sizes and wheel diameters should be selected to maintain ground clearance and tire load capacity equivalent to the minimum specified tire. Radial tires should always be used in sets of five but in an emergency, radial tires can be used with caution on the rear axle only. If this is done, both tires on the rear should be of radial design.

Radial tires should never be used on only the front axle.

Snow tires should not be operated at sustained speeds over 70 mph.

On four wheel drive vehicles, all tires must be of the same size, type and tread pattern, to provide even traction on loose surfaces, to prevent driveline bind when conventional four wheel drive is used and to prevent excessive wear on the center differential with full time four wheel drive.


See Figures 1, 2 and 3

All tires made since 1968, have 8 built-in tread wear indicator bars that show up as 1 / 2 es wide smooth bands across the tire when 1 / 16 of tread remains. The appearance of tread wear indicators means that the tires should be replaced. In fact, many states have laws prohibiting the use of tires with less than 1 / 16 tread.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Checking tread with an inexpensive depth gauge

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Fig. Fig. 2: Tread depth can be checked with a penny; when the top of Lincoln's head is visible, it's time for new tires

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Fig. Fig. 3: Since 1968 wear indicators have been built into tires. When these bands become visible on the tire's surface, replace the tire

You can check your own tread depth with an inexpensive gauge or by using a Lincoln head penny. Slip the Lincoln penny into several tread grooves. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head in 2 adjacent grooves, the tires have less than 1 / 16 tread left and should be replaced. You can measure snow tires in the same manner by using the tails side of the Lincoln penny. If you can see the top of the Lincoln memorial, it's time to replace the snow tires.


See Figure 4

Tires must be rotated periodically to equalize wear patterns that vary with a tire's position on the vehicle. Tires will also wear in an uneven way as the front steering/suspension system wears to the point where the alignment should be reset. Rotating the tires will ensure maximum life for the tires as a set, as you will not have to discard a tire early due to wear on only part of the tread.

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Fig. Fig. 4: Tire rotation diagrams

The cardinal rule to follow with radials is to make sure that they always roll in the same direction. This means that a tire used on the left side of the vehicle must not be switched to the right side and vice-versa. If a tire or tires is removed from a running position on the vehicle for a time for use as a spare or because of seasonal use of snow tires, make sure to clearly mark the wheel as to the side of the vehicle it was used on and to observe the mark when reinstalling the tire(s).

Recently the cardinal rule has been re-written and tire manufacturers have begun recommending cross rotating radials. The best recommendation I can make, if your're not sure, is to check with the tire manufacturer of the tires currently on your Honda.


Store the tires at proper inflation pressure if they are mounted on wheels. All tires should be kept in a cool, dry place. If they are stored in the garage or basement, do not let them stand on a concrete floor, set them on strips of wood.