Common sense and good driving habits will afford maximum tire life. Fast starts, sudden stops and hard cornering are hard on tires and will shorten their useful life span. Make sure that you don't overload the vehicle or run with incorrect pressure in the tires. Both of these practices will increase tread wear.
Inspect your tires frequently. Be especially careful to watch for bubbles in the tread or sidewall, deep cuts or underinflation. Replace any tires with bubbles in the sidewall. If cuts are so deep that they penetrate to the cords, discard the tire. Any cut in the sidewall of a radial tire renders it unsafe. Also, look for uneven tread wear patterns that may indicate the front end is out of alignment or that the tires are out of balance.
Most tires today have a service description branded on the side wall after the tire size. This service description consists of two parts: the load index and the speed symbol. The load index is a number usually between 75 and 115, which defines the tire's load capacity at maximum inflation. Higher numbers mean greater load capacity. The speed symbol is a letter usually between P and Z, which defines the speed capability of the tire. In the past, this letter might have been part of the tire size.
Inspect the tires for lacerations, puncture marks, nails and other sharp objects. Repair or replace as necessary. Also, check the tires for treadwear and air pressure .
Check the wheel assemblies for dents, cracks, rust, and metal fatigue. Repair or replace as necessary.
Good radial tires can produce a big advantage in slippery weather, but in snow, a street radial tire does not have sufficient tread to provide traction and control. The small grooves of a street tire quickly pack with snow and the tire behaves like a billiard ball on a marble floor. The more open, chunky tread of a snow tire will self-clean as the tire turns, providing much better grip on snowy surfaces.
To satisfy municipalities requiring snow tires during weather emergencies, most snow tires carry either an M + S designation after the tire size stamped on the sidewall, or the designation "all-season." In general, no change in tire size is necessary when buying snow tires.
Most manufacturers strongly recommend the use of four snow tires on their vehicles for reasons of stability. If snow tires are fitted only to the drive wheels, the opposite end of the vehicle may become very unstable when braking or turning on slippery surfaces. This instability can lead to unpleasant endings if the driver can't counteract the slide in time.
Note that snow tires, whether 2 or 4, will affect vehicle handling in all non-snow situations. The stiffer, heavier snow tires will noticeably change the turning and braking characteristics of the vehicle. Once the snow tires are installed, you must re-learn the behavior of the vehicle and drive accordingly.
If they are mounted on wheels, store the tires at proper inflation pressure. 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, a mat or a large stack of newspaper. Keeping them away from direct moisture is of paramount importance. Tires should not be stored upright, but in a flat position.
- Park the vehicle on a level surface.
- Remove the jack, tire iron and, if necessary, the spare tire from the storage compartment.
- Check the owner's manual for the jacking points on your vehicle. Then, place the jack in the proper position.
- If equipped with lug nut trim caps, remove them by either unscrewing or pulling them off the lug nuts, as appropriate.
- If equipped with a wheel cover or hubcap, insert the tapered end of the tire iron in the groove and pry off the cover.
- Apply the parking brake and block the diagonally opposite wheel with a wheel chock or two.
- If equipped with an automatic transmission/transaxle, place the selector lever in P or Park; with a manual transmission/transaxle, place the shifter in Reverse.
- With the tires still on the ground, use the tire iron/wrench to break the lug nuts loose.
- Using the jack, raise the vehicle until the tire is clear of the ground. Support the vehicle safely using jackstands.
- Remove the lug nuts, then remove the tire and wheel assembly.
- Make sure the wheel and hub mating surfaces, as well as the wheel lug studs, are clean and free of all foreign material. Always remove rust from the wheel mounting surface and the brake rotor or drum. Failure to do so may cause the lug nuts to loosen in service.
- Install the tire and wheel assembly and hand-tighten the lug nuts.
- Using the tire wrench, tighten all the lug nuts, in a crisscross pattern, until they are snug.
- Raise the vehicle and withdraw the jackstand, then lower the vehicle.
- Using a torque wrench, tighten the lug nuts in a crisscross pattern to 85-105 ft. lbs. ( 115-142 Nm). Check your owner's manual or refer to Section 1 of this manual for the proper tightening sequence.
- If so equipped, install the wheel cover or hubcap. Make sure the valve stem protrudes through the proper opening before tapping the wheel cover into position.
- If equipped, install the lug nut trim caps by pushing them or screwing them on, as applicable.
- Remove the jack from under the vehicle, and place the jack and tire iron/wrench in their storage compartments. Remove the wheel chock(s).
- If you have removed a flat or damaged tire, place it in the storage compartment of the vehicle and take it to your local repair station to have it fixed or replaced as soon as possible.
For maximum satisfaction, tires should be used in sets of four. Mixing of different types (radial, bias-belted, fiberglass belted) must be avoided. In most cases, the vehicle manufacturer has designated a type of tire on which the vehicle will perform best. Your first choice when replacing tires should be to use the same type of tire that the manufacturer recommends.
When radial tires are used, tire sizes and wheel diameters should be selected to maintain ground clearance and tire load capacity equivalent to the original specified tire. Radial tires should always be used in sets of four.
When selecting tires, pay attention to the original size as marked on the tire. Most tires are described using an industry size code sometimes referred to as P-Metric. This allows the exact identification of the tire specifications, regardless of the manufacturer. If selecting a different tire size or brand, remember to check the installed tire for any sign of interference with the body or suspension while the vehicle is stopping, turning sharply or heavily loaded.
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, so you will not have to discard a tire early due to wear on only part of the tread. Regular rotation is required to equalize wear.
When rotating "unidirectional tires," 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. Such tires should only be rotated front-to-rear or rear-to-front, while always remaining on the same side of the vehicle. These tires are marked on the sidewall as to the direction of rotation; observe the marks when reinstalling the tire(s).