Is your Toyota ready for new tires? For many car owners, the answer may be that you aren’t sure. That’s okay, and we understand that tire facts can be confusing. At Alpine Toyota, we strive to provide all the information that you may need about our services for your vehicle, and when your vehicle needs it most.
Take a moment to find out how to tell when your Toyota is ready for a new set of tires. Not only will you be more informed, but you may be surprised to learn all the benefits you’ll enjoy with new tires, from peace of mind to great year-round traction.
How to Know When You Need New Tires
Unless you catch a nail on the highway, the most common reason to need to new tires is simple wear and tear. The minimum allowable tread depth on a tire is 1.6 mm (1/16 in). If you reach that point, you must replace your tires.
However, you will start to lose grip in rainy conditions when the tread depth declines to 3.2 mm (4/32 in). Because snow is a seasonal part of life in Cranbrook, start thinking about replacing your tires when the tread depth reaches 4.0 mm (5/32). The added depth needed for rainy or snowy conditions allows your tires to push out or compress enough water or snow to keep them connected to the road. After all, your tires are the only four elements of your vehicle that touch the road’s surface.
Other non-standard wear to your tires may include cuts, cracks, bulges, or blisters in your sidewall. Bulges and blisters are particularly concerning, as they suggest weak spots in the tires that could lead to a blowout. Lack of maintenance (more on that below) can lead to uneven wear or excessive vibration.
And if you follow all instructions for scheduled maintenance, you should still replace your tires after six years, no matter their condition.
What to Know before You Buy Tires
We have plenty of tire-specific recommendations and advice. But there’s one piece of information to keep in mind as well: Don’t bother putting new tires on a car with misaligned wheels or bad shocks. Not only will your tires wear quickly—bringing you back for a new set before otherwise necessary—but you won’t get to enjoy any of the handling and safety benefits of your new tires.
At Alpine Toyota, we have a highly trained team of Toyota experts to help you find the perfect tires for your car. That said, every car also has manufacturer recommendations for the size and type of tire in your owner’s manual and, in many cases, on a placard attached to your car (typically along the edge of the driver’s side door).
Many car owners don’t realize that the tires that came with your car were selected to make the most of its capabilities and provide the best ride for you and your family. If you love the tires that came with your Toyota, the best recommendation is to stick with those tires. Just know that your original tires may have a higher price tag than some other tires. There are similar options available at a lower cost, but you will sacrifice some of the benefits.
Because tires wear out after six years—regardless of wear—make sure that the new tires you purchase are, in fact, new. Numbers on the sidewall of your tire indicate the “born on” date of your tire, among other things. Look for a four-number combination like 1015, which indicates that your tire was manufactured during the 10th week of 2015.
If you’re looking into high-performance tires for your Toyota, you will enjoy the benefits of sportier handling. Just remember that “high performance” refers only to the tire’s handling capabilities, not its durability. Sports cars, large SUVs, and high-performance tires all have benefits that many drivers enjoy, but powerful or large vehicles put greater stress on tires, causing them to wear a bit faster than tires on standard sedans.
After you have new tires installed, give them about 800 km (500 mi) of break-in time to remove any lingering residues from the manufacturing process. These residues may increase braking distance slightly or reduce optimal handling in their first few weeks.
Maintaining Your New Tires
As we noted above, many factors affect the lifespan of your tires, from how you drive to the type of car you drive, to the weather conditions in your area. In any case, nothing extends the life of your tires better than regular maintenance.
As most people switch to winter tires for the colder months, be aware that cold conditions and snowy weather cause the tires to wear faster than all-season tires. Winter tires use a specific tread type and softer rubber compound to offer greater grip in the ice and snow. (The softer compound also keeps your tires from freezing—yes, tires can freeze—in extremely cold temperatures.)
As a driver, you can play an active role to increase the life of your tires. Start by checking periodically for uneven wear. A monthly exterior inspection is a good way to discover small issues before they become more important ones, and paying attention to how your c’ar handles and any vibrations you may feel through the steering wheel offers another way to monitor the performance of your tires.
If you notice a raised portion of tread or sidewall, it could indicate that a tire belt within the tire has separated from those around it. And, when driving, the sensation that your car is pulling to one side of the road suggests an under-inflated or damaged tire on the side where the car is pulling.
Checking the Air Pressure on Your Tires
Regular checks of your tire air pressure are essential tasks for every driver. The maximum air pressure for your tires is given either in Kilopascals (kPA) or pounds per square inch (PSI). However, the maximum pressure listed on your tire usually exceeds the recommended air pressure from your manufacturer, which can found in your owner’s manual or information placard. Rely on your owner’s manual for the appropriate tire pressure on your Toyota.
All tires will leak over time, but cold temperatures can expedite the effect. During your monthly check of air pressure, check your tires when they’re cold (not right after a trip), and remember to check the pressure of your spare tire as well. It’s not good enough to simply eyeball your tire pressure because you may not spot an underinflated tire, or, to the contrary, may overinflate your tires—modern radial tires bulge slightly, even when fully inflated.
Driving with underinflated tires wears your tires more quickly, lowers fuel economy, and can also lead to a dangerous blowout or tread separation. An underinflated tire causes additional flex in the sidewall, which builds up excessive heat within the tire.
Scheduled Maintenance Services
There are also times when you need professional scheduled maintenance for your tires, and that’s where Alpine Toyota comes in. We can help your Toyota tires last longer with regular tire rotation, tire balancing, and wheel alignment.
You should rotate your tires according to manufacturer recommendations, typically every 8,000–11,000 km (5,000–7,000 mi). Your front and rear tires manage different loads and perform unique functions. Tire rotation ensures that all four tires wear evenly and maximizes the lifespan of your tires.
Tire balancing also focuses on the even wear of your tires. Technicians add small weights to your wheels to dampen any vibration. You should expect to balance your tires each time your tires come off your vehicle, or whenever you notice a vibration.
Wheel alignment keeps your wheels and tires exactly perpendicular to the road. Over time, your wheels may begin to tilt slightly inward or outward, making your tires wear unevenly and reducing your handling. Learn more about wheel alignment for your Toyota.
If you alternate between all-season and winter tires, remember to clean your tires before you store them at the end of each season. A quick but thorough cleaning with a tire brush, soap, and water before you store your tires will save you hours of much harder work when you retrieve them the next time. Do not apply any tire gloss or other coating on your tires before storage.
It’s important to store your tires in airtight containers to prevent evaporation of the lubricating oil within your tires, which can shorten their lifespan. A large, plastic trash bag is well-suited to the job. If you own or are considering tire totes to make it easier to move your unused tires, first encase the tires in plastic bags—totes are not airtight.
If you’re storing your tires at home, store them upright or in low stacks. If the tires are still mounted on their wheels, you can hang them from hooks or place them in stacks.
The ideal environment for storing your tires is simple: cool, dry, and out of the sun. Intense heat can break down the rubber compounds in your tires, making garages, attics, sheds, and other non-climate-controlled environments a poor choice for tire storage. Also, remember to keep your tires away from ozone-emitting devices, such as furnaces, central vacuums, sump pumps, and electric motors.
Whether you need advice on selecting a new tire or think it’s time for scheduled maintenance, Alpine Toyota is your best choice for unbiased, expert opinions, fast service, and unbeatable prices.