Tire Maintenance & Repair St. Cloud, MN


     
   

Tire rotation is an important maintenance duty that extends the life of your tires and ensures safe driving. We'll take a look at this simple but effective procedure.

Whether you plan on doing the job yourself or having it performed by a certified mechanic, it's important to know why we rotate our tires.

Front And Rear Tires Wear Differently
Think about it. All that parallel parking. All those three-point turns. With each turn of the steering wheel, pressure is brought to bear on the front tires. (This is even more accentuated in front-wheel-drive cars, where the front wheels also supply the main motive power for the vehicle.) Resistance causes friction, which in turn produces heat. The result? The front tires wear quicker than the rears. Because of this, it's necessary to rotate the tires front-to-rear several times during their life cycle to 1) equalize tread wear and 2) maximize the life of the tires. This is what we refer to when we say "rotate the tires." Rotating generally does not refer to either of the following actions:

  • Exchanging tires on the same axle — for example, swapping the rear tires left to right
  • Criss-crossing tires — moving a tire from the passenger's side rear to the driver's side front

There's a good reason for this. Tires develop wear patterns as they age. Some of these patterns are tied to the suspension system and the alignment. That's why we keep the tires on the same side of the car.

If your car has staggered wheels -- the front and rear tires are two different sizes, such as with the Chrysler Crossfire— you can still swap the tires side-to-side, but not front to back. If your tires are unidirectional (specific to one side of the car) or asymmetrical (the tread pattern changes from the inside of the tire to the outside), you can rotate them front to back but not side to side. And if you happen to have staggered wheels that are also unidirectional or asymmetrical, you cannot rotate your tires at all! But that's rarely the case.

How often should you rotate your tires? That depends. Refer to your owner's manual for exact guidelines, but most manufacturers recommend rotating tires roughly every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Again, see your owner's manual for specifics.

An important tool needed for this procedure is a torque wrench. They range in price, but you can get a simple one for under $35. The torque wrench is especially necessary on modern cars with alloy wheels, to avoid over tightening and damage to the wheels. The recommended torque specs can be found in your owner's manual or online.

With that knowledge, let's move to the procedure, provided your car has four wheels with equal tire sizes and matching tread patterns.

Ready To Rotate Your Tires?
Park your car on level pavement. Put the car in "Park" (or in gear, if it's a manual transmission) and set the parking brake firmly. Turn off the engine.

Choose which side of the car that you want to work on first. Now go to the opposite side and block the tires, front and rear. This is a precaution and will prevent the car from moving while you work on it.

There are several kinds of jacks you can use to elevate the car. The most readily available may be the jack that came with the vehicle. However, this is also the most unsafe and should only be used for short periods of time. If you use this jack, we recommend safeguarding yourself by using jack stands under both the front and rear axles. In fact, this isn't a bad idea anytime you're working around an elevated vehicle. Once the car is in the air, position the jack stands under the axle, behind each wheel; then gently lower the weight of the vehicle onto the jack stands.

You can also use a small hydraulic jack or -- the best of all possible options -- a floor jack. Whatever, the principle is the same. Locate a point under the frame nearest the manufacturer's recommended jacking point, and position the jack there. In most front-engine vehicles, this will be a foot or two behind the front wheel. (There will sometimes be a hole facing you here, where you can insert the extension from the jack.)

Before you elevate the vehicle, you will want to take the lug wrench and loosen the lug nuts on both the front and rear wheels. This technique uses the vehicle's weight to hold the wheels in place, so they don't spin as you crank on the lug nuts.

Once the lug nuts are loose, jack up the vehicle and then, if you have jack stands, back down onto the stands. Spin off the lug nuts and put them in a safe place.

Remove the front tire, then the rear, and switch their positions, rolling the front tire to the rear, and the rear to the front.

Before you mount them, let's inspect the tread.

The tread pattern has wear indicators built into it. These are little bumps or nubs manufactured directly into the tread. Inspecting them will tell you how close the tire is to needing replacement. See if you can spot them. They're located throughout the tread pattern, but especially on the ridge where the tread and sidewall meet. Find one? Compare its height to the height of the tread surrounding it. If the tread is wearing to the point where its height is approaching that of the wear indicator, you'll need to be shopping tires soon. Make a mental note.

Now go ahead and mount the tires, having switched front to rear, etc. If you have a friend handy, have them hold the tire while you thread the first lug nut or two into its hole. Once all the nuts are threaded finger-tight, grab the torque wrench and tighten them further.

Now, as before, you want to use the weight of the vehicle to hold the wheels in place while you snug the lug nuts down good and tight. Jack the vehicle up off the jack stands (if you're using them) and then slowly let it sink to the ground.

Take the torque wrench and tighten the lug nuts to their recommended specification.

By the way, it's best to work the lug nuts diagonally across from one another, as though forming a star, instead of side to side. This allows them to seat better into their cradles.

Done. Now go to the other side of the car and repeat the steps.

That's All There Is To It...
Remember, this quick and simple procedure will extend the tread life of your tires. It will also provide maximum gripping power to the vehicle.

To repeat: this should be done roughly every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Check your owner's manual for exact intervals.

You don't need some fancy mechanic with a lot of expensive tools to do this job for you. This is one you can do yourself.

 
  Why is tire inflation so important?

Tires are one of the most important parts on your car. Tires not properly inflated will wear out quickly, waste fuel, and can cause a collision. Under-inflation creates excessive heat, and can lead to tire failure, which could result in vehicle damage and/or serious injury or death.   Statistics and research on transportation indicate that due to tire under-inflation, at least 260,000 accidents happen per year, and at least half a million gallons of fuel are wasted each year. Under-inflation is the leading cause of tire failure.

However, tire inflation is the most neglected item of auto maintenance. Why? Because there used to be no convenient way to inflate tires. Commonly used "trial and error" inflating technique is very tedious. 

How do you inflate your tires? You probably inflate your tires when you go to a gas station. You measure the tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge after each shot. If the pressure is too high, you have to deflate it. You have to repeat inflating-measuring-inflating or deflating again and again ... till you feel frustrated after many 'trial and errors'. 

You finally decide to have it inflated by a professional mechanic. You believe that your mechanic should inflate your tires to the correct pressure because he is professional. Unfortunately, your mechanic can only do the same 'trial and errors' as you did. He could never be patient enough to adjust your tire pressure to the correct level, especially when the tire inflation is free of charge. 

Now, you, like most people, are riding on your precious tires at the wrong pressure without even realizing it.

What to do? The Drive Green™ one-shot tire inflator is the solution. This magic device provides to you a smart, easy, quick and accurate tire inflation.

Yes, just one shot! No trial and error! No gauge needed! It is fully automatic and easy-to-use. The inflator will allow air flow only until your tire is inflated to the proper pressure.

 
  Tire Replacement

If you need new tires, our service experts can recommend the right tires for your vehicle. They offer a range of top-quality tire brands at competitive prices.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU NEED NEW TIRES?

Tire wear depends on several factors, including your driving style and tire maintenance habits. The wrong size load and speed rating can void your warranty. But one sure way to know when to replace your tires is when treadwear indicators appear. A tire’s built-in treadwear indicators are wear bars that look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread and appear when it’s time to replace the tire.

You also need a new tire if:

  • You can see three or more treadwear indicators around the tire
  • Cord or fabric is showing through the rubber
  • The tread or sidewall is cracked, cut, or snagged deep enough to show cord or fabric
  • The tire has a bulge or split
  • The tire has a puncture, cut, or other damage that can't be repaired correctly
 
   Tire Air Pressure

Maximize your tires’ performance and durability by monitoring and maintaining correct air pressure. Air is a gas, expanding when heated and contracting when cooled. For most of North America, fall and early winter are especially important times for checking tire pressure – as the ambient temperature falls, tire air pressure goes down.

A good rule of thumb is that every 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature change, tire pressure changes about 1 psi— higher as temperatures rise, lower as they fall. Check your vehicle’s Owner Manual for recommended tire pressure.

Underinflated tires can cause:

  • Premature or irregular wear
  • Poor handling
  • Reduced fuel economy

Overinflated tires can cause:

  • Unusual wear
  • Poor handling
  • Reduced fuel economy

 Checking Air Pressure

 

 

Check your vehicle’s tires at least once a month when the tires are cold (let the vehicle sit for at least 3 hours). Look in your vehicle’s Owner Manual for the recommended tire inflation for your vehicle. Use a quality gauge. Don’t eyeball tires—radial tires can look fine even when they’re underinflated. Be sure to look for objects that have become wedged in the tread—they can work themselves further into the tire and cause air loss. And don’t forget to check the spare!

   
  Tire Rotation & Alignment
Since each tire performs different tasks (such as steering or front- versus rear-wheel drive), tires wear at different rates. Rotating your tires at recommended intervals extends their useful life and achieves more uniform tire wear.

It’s important to rotate your tires according to the correct tire rotation pattern. Front tires encounter different tasks than the rear tires. And a front-wheel-drive vehicle’s tires perform different tasks than those on a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Your Owner Manual specifies which rotation pattern is right for your vehicle.

 Your vehicles’s front and rear tires may also use different pressures — make sure to adjust individual tire pressure to the recommendation for each wheel position. See your vehicle’s Owner Manual for recommendations.

Tire Alignment

Alignment is critical for ensuring that you get maximum wear and performance from your tires. Poor alignment results from your vehicle's suspension and steering system becoming out of adjustment with each other. The biggest indicators of your vehicle being out of alignment are pulling one way or the other as you drive or unusual tire wear. Improper tire inflation can also cause unusual tire wear.

Your vehicle may have both front- and rear-wheel alignment specifications. We can recommend the alignment type that's right for your vehicle.

   
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