In This Chapter
► Understanding the anatomy of a tire
► Deciphering tire codes
Choosing the right tires for your vehicle
► Maintaining your tires: Checking air pressure, rotating, aligning, and balancing
► Examining your tires for wear
If you think about tires only when it’s time to buy new ones, you need to ^ think again. The right tires in the right condition can enhance your driving experience and make it safer. In fact, your brakes and your tires have a two-way relationship: Poor braking action results in increased tire wear, but properly balanced and aligned wheels and properly inflated tires in good condition can help stop your car up to 25 percent faster!
There’s also a strong correlation between tire inflation and tire wear. If your tires are underinflated, the outer treads wear out faster. If your tires are over-inflated, the centers of the tread areas go. And if the wheels get out of alignment, your tires can wear out in as little as one day of hard driving! So to get more mileage from your tires, plus better braking action and a smoother, quieter ride, you ought to know a bit about buying, checking, and maintaining the tires on your vehicle.
In this chapter, I tell you about the kinds of tires available. (You can buy different types and grades, and just as you wouldn’t wear your finest shoes to the beach, you don’t want to put the most expensive, long-lasting, high-speed radials on an old car that just goes back and forth to the shopping center.)
I also tell you how to check your tires and how to “read” your treads for clues about how well your car is performing — and how well you’re driving. If these clues show that you need to have your wheels balanced or aligned, or your tires replaced, I provide enough information for you to be sure that the work is done the right way for the right price.
You don’t have to do much (in terms of physical labor) with this chapter, so just find a comfortable place to read, relax, and enjoy. For information about how to change a tire, see Chapter 1.