Checking tire pressure with pressure gauge

Tire Safety and Maintenance Tips: Upkeep Your Tires

By the Mercury Team

Whether you’re a daily commuter or an occasional road tripper, understanding how to care for your tires can significantly improve your driving experience. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your tires rolling smoothly, from checking tire pressure to replacing old tires.

Check Tire Pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is key for your vehicle’s safety and performance. Underinflated tires can lead to poor fuel efficiency and uneven wear, while overinflated tires can reduce traction and increase the risk of a blowout. Here’s a simple guide to help you check your tire pressure:

  • Find the right tire pressure: What should it be? Check your vehicle’s manual or the sticker inside the driver’s side door to find the recommended tire pressure.
  • Use a tire pressure gauge: Remove the valve cap from one of your tires, press the gauge onto the valve stem, and read the pressure. Repeat this for all four tires.
  • Adjust as needed: If the pressure is too low, add air using an air compressor. If it’s too high, release some air. Make sure to check the pressure again after adjusting.
  • Regular checks: A tire can lose up to 25% of its original air pressure per month, so make it a habit to check your tire pressure at least once a month and before long trips. This helps ensure your tires are always in optimal condition.

Rotate Your Tires

Regular tire rotations help distribute wear evenly across all four tires, improving their longevity and performance. It’s a simple step to save money and keep your vehicle running smoothly. Here are some tips on rotating your tires:

  • Follow a pattern: Most vehicles follow a standard rotation pattern, such as moving the front tires to the rear and the rear tires to the front in a crisscross manner. Check your vehicle’s manual for the recommended pattern.
  • Schedule regular rotations: How often should you rotate your tires? Aim to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. This interval often coincides with oil changes, making it easy to remember.
  • Check for wear and tear: While rotating your tires, inspect them for any signs of uneven wear, cuts, or punctures. Addressing these issues early can prevent bigger problems down the road.
  • Professional help: If you’re uncomfortable rotating your tires yourself, many service centers and tire shops offer this service at a reasonable cost.

Get a Wheel Alignment

What is wheel alignment? It’s a maintenance procedure that involves adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they’re set to the manufacturer’s specifications. The main goal is to ensure that the wheels are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other, improving the vehicle’s handling, ensuring even tire wear, and increasing your tires’ lifespan. Consider these tips when it comes to wheel alignment:

  • Signs of misalignment: Look out for signs such as uneven tire wear, your vehicle pulling to one side, or a crooked steering wheel when driving straight.
  • Schedule regular alignments: It’s generally recommended to check your alignment every 4,000 to 6,000 miles or whenever you notice any signs of misalignment. This can often be done during routine maintenance visits.
  • Professional service: Wheel alignment is a precise process that requires specialized equipment. Visit a professional service center to ensure your wheels are aligned correctly according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Balance Your Tires

Over time, tire weight distribution can change due to normal wear and tear. Unbalanced tires can cause vibrations, uneven wear, and stress on your vehicle’s suspension system. So, what does balancing tires do? It involves placing small weights on the wheel to counterbalance uneven weight distribution. Mechanics typically use a specialized machine that spins the tires and identifies imbalances.

When tires are balanced, the weight is evenly distributed around the wheel, ensuring a smoother ride, reducing tire wear, and improving the overall handling of your vehicle. Balance your tires whenever you install new tires, after a tire repair, or if you notice vibrations while driving, especially at higher speeds. It’s also a good idea to balance your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles to maintain smooth performance.

Check Tire Tread

Tire tread provides the necessary grip and traction your car needs on the road. Adequate tire tread is vital for safe driving, especially in wet or slippery conditions. Here’s how to check tire tread:

  • Penny test: Insert a penny into the tread groove with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
  • Tread wear indicators: Modern tires have built-in tread wear indicators, which are small raised bars within the tread grooves. If these bars are flush with the tire’s surface, your tread is too worn.
  • Tread depth gauge: For a more precise measurement, use a tread depth gauge. Place the gauge into the tread groove and press it down until the base is flush with the tire. Read the measurement on the gauge to ensure your tread depth is above the minimum recommended level (usually 2/32 of an inch).

Make it a habit to check your tire tread every few months or before long trips. Regular inspections help catch potential issues early and keep you safe on the road. If your tread depth is below the recommended level or if you notice uneven tire wear patterns, cracks, or bulges, it’s time to replace your tires.

Replace Old Tires

Driving on old tires can be dangerous as they are more prone to blowouts and failures. Replacing them in a timely manner ensures better handling, improved fuel efficiency, and a safer driving experience.

So, how old is too old for tires? Generally, you should replace your tires every 6 to 10 years, regardless of tread wear. Even if the tread appears fine, the rubber can degrade over time, reducing the tire’s effectiveness and safety. Check the tire’s manufacturing date on the sidewall, marked as a four-digit number indicating the week and year it was made (e.g., 1018 means the 10th week of 2018).

If you’re unsure about the condition of your tires, have a professional evaluate them. They can provide an expert opinion on whether your tires are still safe to use.

Use Identical Tires

When replacing your tires, you might wonder: Do all four tires need to match? It’s a good idea to use identical tires to maintain optimal performance. Mismatched tires can cause uneven wear, poor handling, and an increased risk of accidents. Different tires may have varying levels of traction, performance characteristics, and wear rates, leading to imbalances and safety issues.

If you’re unsure about your car’s tire specifications, follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Using recommended tire sizes and types helps maintain your vehicle’s intended performance and safety standards.


Your tires are the only parts of your car that touch the road, so regular maintenance ensures your vehicle offers a smooth, safe ride. However, accidents happen, and you want to make sure you have the right coverage to protect you when facing the unexpected. Consider Mercury for auto insurance and enjoy best-in-class coverage at an affordable rate.

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Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

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