Mazda 323/626/929/GLC/MX-6/RX-7 1978-1989

Tires and Wheels



See Figure 1

Tire wear can be equalized by switching the position of the tires about every 4,000-7,500 miles (6,441-12,077 km). Including a conventional spare in the rotation pattern can give up to 20% more tire life.

Do not include a Spacesaver® or temporary spare tire in the rotation pattern.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Tire rotation patterns

Due to their design, radial tires tend to wear faster in the shoulder area, particularly in the front positions. Radial tires in non-drive locations, may develop an irregular wear pattern that can generate tire noise. It was originally thought the radial tires should not be cross-switched (from one side of the vehicle to the other); because of their wear patterns and because they would last longer if their direction of rotation is not changed. The manufacturer's tire rotation recommendations for most late model vehicles covered by this information now allows for, and even suggests, cross-switching radial tires to allow for more uniform tire wear.

Some specialty tires may be directional (certain snow or performance tires), meaning they may only be mounted to rotate in one direction. Some special performance tires/wheels will fall into this category and will be marked with directional rotation arrows on the tire sidewalls. NEVER switch the direction of rotation on tires so marked or poor performance/tire damage could occur. This should be taken into consideration in choosing a rotation pattern for directional tires.

If you have any doubt as to the correct rotation pattern for the tires which are currently mounted on your vehicle, consult the tire manufacturer or one of their facilities for recommendations.


Tires are of two basic designs: bias ply (or bias-belted) and radial ply. It is important to understand that there are radical differences between the bias and radial designs.

Radials were designed to substantially enhance the tire's ability to keep the tread uniformly in contact with the road. This means that radials have a substantially better ability to maintain their grip on the road in tight cornering situations. Since handling stability depends greatly upon maintaining similar adhesion for both the front and rear of the car, IT IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO MIX RADIALS WITH EITHER BIAS OR BIAS-BELTED TIRES. Make sure all four tires are either radials, bias or bias-belted tires; the consequences of mixing the two basic types can be extremely dangerous!


See Figures 2, 3 and 4

All tires made since 1968, have 8 built-in tread wear indicator bars that show up as 1 / 2 in. (12.7mm) wide smooth bands across the tire when 1 / 16 in. (1.59mm) of tread remains. The appearance of tread wear indicators means that a tire should be replaced. In fact, many states have laws prohibiting the use of tires with less than 1 / 16 in. (1.59mm) tread.

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Fig. Fig. 2: Tread wear indicator bars

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 tire has less than 1 / 16 in. (1.59mm) tread remaining and should be replaced. You can measure snow tires in the same manner by using the tail side of the Lincoln penny. If you can see the top of the Lincoln Memorial, it's time to replace the snow tires.

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Fig. Fig. 3: Checking tread depth using a gauge

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Fig. Fig. 4: Checking tread depth using a Lincoln head penny


Tire inflation is the most ignored item of auto maintenance. Gasoline mileage can drop as much as 0.8 percent for every 1 pound per square inch (psi) of underinflation. Since kicking the tires won't tell you a thing (and will only hurt your foot), it is important to regularly check inflation pressure with a tire pressure gauge.

Service station air hose gauges are often broken or missing, and are notoriously inaccurate. Therefore, a pocket type tire pressure gauge should be a permanent fixture in every glove compartment. Check the tire air pressure (including the spare) at least once a month.

The tire pressures recommended for your car are usually found on the glove box door, the left side door jamb or in the owner's manual. 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 (5.56°C) rise or drop in temperature means a difference of 1 psi (6.89 kPa), which also explains why the tires appear to lose air on a very cold night. When it is impossible to check the tires cold, allow for pressure buildup due to heat. If the hot pressure exceeds the cold pressure by more than 15 psi (103.42 kPa), reduce your 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 buildup 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 (14-28 kPa) of air to the tires to make them run cooler, but never exceed the maximum inflation pressure on the side of the tire.


Store tires at their 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.


If your Mazda is equipped with aluminum wheels, special attention must be given to their care. Remember that aluminum is a soft metal and it scratches easily. When washing aluminum wheels, use a soft cloth and NEVER use a wire brush. If the vehicle is steam cleaned, do not allow the steam to come in contact with aluminum wheels. If alkaline compounds (such as road salts or salt water) build up on the wheels, wash them as soon as possible to prevent corrosion and damage. Finally, if replacements are required, do not use wheels other than what is recommended by the manufacturer.