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Correct Time to Change your Tires and Correct the Pressure.

According to conventional advice, if the tire tread wears down to a groove length of only 2/32 inches (in some states this is the tire tread depth law), or if it is displaying the tread wear indicator bar, enter: New tires for your car.
However, with many tires, the driver loses great traction and braking ability sooner than that in rain or snow. Loss of traction is an alternative to having the vehicle stop for a penny, as the tires gradually wear out and many vehicle owners do not regularly check the tread depth or uneven wear. It may not be apparent until you slip on them.
New tires typically have a tread depth of 10/32 to 11/32 inches when new. In addition to the deep tread, grooves, and indentations on the sides of the tread allow water and snow to escape under the tire and maintain proper grip. As the tread wears down and the grooves and grooves get shallower, more water is trapped under the tire. The tires then roll over slippery water (“hydroplaning”) or snow instead of “biting” the pavement.
As a result, the stopping distance is greater, the wheel turns more when accelerating, and grip when cornering is reduced.
When this slip or skid begins to occur, and the severity of the lack of traction, depends on the design of the tire and can occur before it appears that there are broken tires that need to be replaced. For some tires, for example, if the tread depth is still 5/32 inches, it can be dangerous. This seems to be more than enough to avoid buying new tires. However, some tires have better traction on wet pavement and snow than others, keeping them for longer miles and less depth.
The mechanic will inspect the tire for abnormal or excessive wear, measure the depth of the tread with a gauge, and inform you of the tire’s remaining life. Depth gauges to check for worn tires are available at your own auto parts store. Also, there is always a penny test. Insert a Lincoln head penny (the top of the head should reach the headfirst) into the groove of the tread. If you can see the top of Abe’s head honestly, you need new tires.

Correct Pressure:

Having the correct tire pressure is very important for good fuel economy and maximizing tire life. Your car has recommended tire pressures that give you optimal fuel economy, handling, and tire life, which is written directly on the vehicle door. This is what you should follow when filling air to the recommended pressure measured in pounds per square inch (psi).
For newer cars, the recommended tire pressure is most found on the label inside the driver’s door. If there is no sticker on the door, the specifications are usually listed in the owner’s manual. Most passenger cars recommend 32 psi to 35 psi for cold weather tires. The reason to check the tire pressure when the tire is cold is that when the tire rolls on the road, the friction between the tire and the road generates heat, which increases both the temperature and the pressure. To get the most accurate reading (not to mention the most consistent), make sure the car is stopped overnight or parked for at least a few hours.

Steering Wheel Jerking Right and Left

If you notice your steering wheel jerking from one side to the other side, an inspection is in order. Here are some potential causes of this jerking to check for and address.

Road Conditions

Observe the condition of road you’re traveling and see if it has grooved pavement, which can cause the vehicle tires to follow the line of grooving. If these grooves are somewhat crooked, your vehicle will try to steer with the groove direction. Rutted roads will direct your steering to follow the ruts—this effect is most prominent in asphalt paved roads with heavy truck traffic. If grooved or rutted roads aren’t the problem, move on to checking the vehicle.

Inspect the Steering Components

Chock your rear wheels to prevent rolling, then jack up the front of your vehicle and support it with jack stands. Get a helper to either observe what happens when you shake the wheels and steering components or to do the shaking while you observe. With the front wheels clear of ground contact, shake them from side to side and up and down. Note what components, if any, have slack, and how much. If this test shows slack in both up and down and side to side movements, your wheel bearings are loose or worn. If only side to side slack is evident, the most likely problem will be worn tie rod ends or idler arm issues.

Rotate the tire and wheel assembly and check for bent/warped wheels, out of round tires, or bulges in tire indicating a slipped belt or impending blowout. The steering gear could have excessive play from being worn too much. Check the back and forth movement of steering wheel before your tires and wheels begin to move. Any movement greater than 2” at the outer rim of the steering wheel indicates excessive wear in steering gear box. Check the flexible joint in the steering shaft between the steering wheel and gear box. Any slack or wear in this component indicates a need to replace it.

Measure the Toe In and Toe Out of Front Wheels

Toe out can cause steering wander and make a vehicle drift from side to side. Too much toe in and the vehicle is hard to steer and will have a tendency to dart from side to side. Each vehicle has a specified distance for correct toe in.
The wheels need to toe in because as the vehicle reaches highway speed, forces on tires will tend to toe out the wheels. It needs enough toe in when stopped to compensate for the toe out that occurs at highway speed for the wheels to run straight.

Check Suspension Components

Check all rubber bushings in the suspension (A-frame and/or strut bushings). As they age, the rubber deteriorates and sometimes falls out of the metal housing, allowing suspension components to be out of alignment.

Repair and Replace

Make notes of what has excessive slack or wear and repair or replace as needed. Usually when one steering component is worn, it’s most likely the other steering parts are worn also. Tires with bulges (slipped belts) or knots need replaced along any bent wheels. Hard bumps with curbs and hitting too many potholes will do damage to tires, steering, and suspension components.

Alignment

Alignment of the wheels is important and critical to good steering.

Camber refers to the in/out tilt of wheel in the vertical plane. Caster refers to the front/back tilt of wheel in horizontal plane. Toe in/toe out refers to the relationship of the straight line tracking to each other of the wheels on same axle. If any of these adjustments are out of specifications due to worn parts, bent components, or loose or missing fasteners the vehicle needs a wheel alignment. This includes all wheels as misalignment of the front and rear wheel relationship will make the vehicle “dog track” or go down the road slightly sideways. This makes it hard to control the vehicle’s forward movement, especially in wet or icy conditions.

4 Car Repairs That You Should Never Put Off

According to a 2015 study conducted by AAA, over 35 percent of Americans consistently skip or delay recommended vehicle maintenance and repairs. While there may be a host of excuses used to justify putting off auto body work, none really hold up in the face of ensuring the safety of yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.

While cosmetic repairs like removing bumper or body dents, refreshing paint jobs, and fixing scratches and dings can be safely put off for a few months, structural repairs that focus on parts which impact how your vehicle runs should never be postponed.

To help you prioritize which repairs are most urgent, here are 4 of the top car maintenance issues that you should tend to consistently to ensure you’re driving safely:

1. Batteries

The life expectancy of a car battery is anywhere between 3 to 5 years, with a shorter lifespan in hotter climates. Few things could be more frustrating than experiencing unexpected battery failure when you’re on the open road. To eliminate all guesswork—and potential for frustration—get your battery tested annually starting in year 3 of its lifespan.

2. Tires

A 2017 survey conducted by AAA found that over 60 percent of Americans put off checking their tire pressure on a regular basis. Ideally, drivers should be checking their tire pressure consistently, at least once every two months during warmer months and once a month during winter. Additionally, a vigilant eye should be kept on tire tread. When tire tread wears to about 4/32”, it’s probably time to invest in a new pair of tires. A mechanic should be able to help you read a tire pressure measurement if you haven’t done it before.

3. Oil change

Changing your oil and oil filter regularly helps to maintain a clean, lubricated, fully-functional engine. Oil mitigates friction among different components in the engine that would otherwise wear against each other. On average, you should be changing your oil every 7,500 miles or 4 months, whichever comes first. The cost of doing so adds up to $200 annually, a far more reasonable cost compared to the four-figure bill you might potentially incur if you neglect oil and filter changes long enough to have your engine fails due to negligence.

4. Brakes

Every time you’re out on the open road, you’re pushing two-plus tons of steel and metal around, and at enormous speeds to boot. That’s a 24/7 hazard that requires massive safety precautions, which is why the brakes are the single most important component in your vehicle. You should be checking them annually for signs of wear and tear before it’s too late. Not only could ignoring consistent brake work lead to costly repair bills down the road; worse, it could lead to a serious car accident. Play it safe by getting your brakes inspected at a repair shop regularly.

The costs of consistent preventative maintenance don’t have to come out-of-pocket. The combination of your regular insurance policy and a quality Vehicle Service Contract can ensure that the costs you pay to ensure safety on the road are minimal.

Changing Your Tires For Spring

As Spring arrives, so does the “rush” to have car tires changed or swapped. While many drivers understand the importance of proper tires for each season, they may not know the right time to remove winter tires–or all the options they have.

Today, we’ll look at the difference between a tire changeover and swap, and why timing is essential when it comes to summer tires.

When to Change Your Tires for Spring?

While most New Yorkers use winter tires, most summer tires are branded as all-season tires. The name is misleading because these tires are only suitable in places that don’t get snowfall. For New Yorkers harsh winters, all-seasons aren’t recommended or sufficient.

It’s best to remove your winter tires at the start of Spring–but you’re not necessarily going by the date. The first week that the temperature consistently stays above 7 degrees Celsius, it’s safe to take your winter tires off to store. Why is the temperature so important? The tread pattern and material on winter tires are designed for snow, ice, and to perform in cold temperatures. When temperatures rise during Spring, the tread and tires can get damaged as they make contact with the road.

Tire Changeover vs Swap? 

You may have heard the terms tire changeover and tire swap and assumed they’re the same thing. They’re not!

You first need to determine if you have a set of winter tires on winter wheels or a set of winter tires on all-season wheels. An easy way to tell is if you have two sets of tires and wheels (rims), or two sets of tires and one set of wheels. Yes, investing in a separate set of winter wheels is more expensive at the onset but will save you money when it’s time to change to summer or all-season tires each year.

Since the tires already have their own set of wheels, a tire swap means removing and storing them together as one piece. A set of summer or all-season tires and rims are installed in their place, and off you go!

If you didn’t purchase separate wheels for your winter tires, a tire changeover is required. During a tire changeover, each winter tire is taken off the existing wheel (rim) and replaced with an all-season tire. A tire changeover typically takes longer than a swap, where each tire and wheel is removed as a single piece.

Now that we’ve covered the difference between a tire changeover and a tire swap, let’s look at a few things you should consider.

Inspect Your Tires

If your summer tires are stored at home, you should check the tread depths before installing them to make sure they’re ready for the summer season ahead. If you don’t have a tire tread gauge, your local Mechanic can also do this!

First and foremost, by law in New York, tires should not be older than ten years. Tires must also meet all standards described in the NYC Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Older tires have reduced traction and are more susceptible to cracking or failing unexpectedly as you drive.

When Do Tires Need to Be Replaced?

You’ll want to replace your tires when the tread is less than 1.5mm deep or when the tread-wear indicators touch the road. For larger vehicles that weigh more than 4,500 kilograms, tires must be replaced when the front tire’s tread is less than 3mm deep.

You should also always replace tires that have tread/sidewall gashes, bulges, knots, exposed cords, or anything that compromises their safety. The easiest way to ensure your tires are in tip-top shape for Spring, is to schedule an appointment with your local Mechanic. Before we perform a tire changeover or swap, we’ll fully inspect your tires and discuss any necessary options with you.

Tire Balancing 

Whether you need new tires, a swap or a changeover, your tires need to be inspected for proper balance and air pressure. A vehicle that has worn or loose parts cannot be aligned, and your Mechanic will inspect all parts before performing an alignment.

When the temperature starts to rise above 7 degrees Celsius, it’s time to think about your tires. While you should carefully weigh the benefits of new tires, a tire swap, or a tire changeover, keeping your winter tires on isn’t a cost-effective (or safe) option.

Have any other questions about your tires? Contact your local Mechanic to have your tires inspected, installed, and properly balanced for Spring!

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