While it’s always good to have a professional perform the bulk of the work on your car, there are a few smaller car maintenance jobs that you can do yourself that’ll save you money.
My car gets driven most days and definitely clocks up the km’s. So, ensuring my tyres are in good working order is always high on the priority list. Not only do properly inflated and balanced wheels save you money on your fuel consumption, but it’s a critical aspect in keeping you and your family safe on the road.
Having the correct air pressure in your tyres ensures that when you’re driving, you have good handling and steering, and it’ll also help extend the life of your tyres. And let’s face it – tyres can be incredibly expensive.
When to Check your Car’s Tyre Pressure
Time flies by incredibly fast, so it’s easy to think you’ve checked your tyres recently, when in fact it could have been 6 months ago. Where possible, try and get into the habit of checking your tyre pressure every month or two. But remember, just because your car may sit in the driveway for weeks on end does not mean all is well. A tyre that sits in one position for a long period of time can lose pressure and may develop flat spots. Try and get into the habit of checking regularly, even if you don’t drive often.
A great habit to get into is to check your pressure when you fuel up at the service station as they have all the right equipment for you. Check the pressure and if it’s a little low, you can inflate the tyre while you’re there. No second trips. Note, some machines aren’t completely accurate but it’s a great starting point. If in doubt, take your car to a tyre shop and have it checked properly.
The correct pressure of your car tyres is going to differ between wheel size, make and model. The correct inflation information should be in your vehicle’s manual, but most cars have it written on the inside of your driver’s door. Otherwise, you can always check on the tyre itself. It usually has the number of PSI to inflate the tyre to.
Note: PSI stands for “Pounds per Square Inch” and is a measurement of pressure.
How to check Tyre Pressure
I have an air compressor at home so usually check my tyre pressure in our driveway. But most people use the air stations at the service stations. These are usually electronic nowadays, although you may still find the odd manual dial gauge.
- First check to see what your tyre pressure should be for both front and back tyres. On some models the front and back tyres may differ, so always check first. You can find this information in a couple of different places:
*on the inside of your driver’s car door (as above)
*in your vehicle’s manual
*printed on the tyre itself; or
*your mechanic may have placed a sticker on your vehicle’s windscreen when the tyres were replaced which contains the PSI information for your new tyres.
- On the air station screen, press the up/down button until the screen reads at the correct PSI for your tyre.
- Unscrew the cap on the valve of your tyre.
- Push the gauge (at the end of the hose) firmly onto the tyre valve, making sure it fits securely.
- Press the lever near the gauge and inflate your tyre until the electronic screen beeps to indicate it is at the correct PSI.
- Remove the gauge from the valve and replace the cap on your tyre. Continue for each tyre.
Are my Tyres Worn Out?
It’s an important aspect of tyre maintenance to check them over periodically to ensure they’re not worn out. It’s easy to do this whenever you check the tyre pressure.
If you have a sticker placed on your windscreen by your tyre shop, it should contain information on when you should have your tyres reviewed and realigned (this will be in km’s). If you don’t have a sticker, then have a closer look at your tyres. There are markers on your tyres that will show you when they’re nearing the wear mark.
Below is an image of my tyre and you can see the wear indicators.
There should be small bars of rubber that run across the grooves in between the tread at different points around the tyre. These are known as tread wear indicators and this is what you need to pay attention too.
If you can see that your tread is worn down to these markers, then you need to get the tyre replaced. Remember, you should get them replaced before they get to this point as your tyre starts to become unsafe if it wears past these markers.
Don’t forget to check the edges/side of your tyres as well. Any damage to the side of the tyre can make them unsafe to drive on. If you see any signs of damage like bulging or cuts, then you need to get the tyre replaced.
It’s also worth to note, that cheaper tyres might save you a few pennies at the beginning, but cheaper is not always better in this case. Cheaper tyres may wear a lot quicker, therefore you may need to purchase tyres more often which will cost you more in the long run. And when it comes down to it, you really do want the best quality tyre on your vehicle keeping you and your family safe.
Rotating your Tyres
In some cases, your tyres may wear unevenly. Rotating your tyres helps evenly distribute the wear thereby making your tyres last longer. If you find your tyres are continually wearing in the same spot, then there may be issues with your wheel alignment. You should book your vehicle in to have them professionally realigned.
To rotate your own tyres, look at rotating front to back, and swap each side. So, swap your front passenger tyre with your rear driver’s side tyre. Then swap your driver’s side tyre with your rear passenger side tyre. This will help give you an even wear across all four tyres.
For instructions on how to change a tyre and the correct way to rotate your tyres check your vehicles manual first. We also have our post on how to change a tyre (here).
Rotating your own tyres can take a bit of time to do, but it’s not overly difficult. Unless you have your own heavy-duty equipment, I wouldn’t suggest jacking up the car and removing 2 tyres at once. I find the easiest way to do this at home is to utilise your spare tyre. But if you’re not comfortable doing this, then take it to your tyre shop and have them do it for you.
To rotate your own tyres, first remove the first tyre and replace it with the spare. This will allow you to work on one tyre at a time as you move around the vehicle, without having to try and lift one side of the car at a time. Move your first tyre to the diagonally opposite tyre and swap them over, then replace this tyre with the spare. Repeat for the other tyres.
Before returning your spare to the boot, don’t forget to give your spare tyre the once-over too. Check the pressure and the wear to ensure it’s in tip-top shape. There’s no point having a spare tyre if it’s not safe to put on your vehicle.