The Ultimate Guide to Tire Care and Maintenance
Written by DriveAxis.ca August 23, 2023
The most reliable car on the market isn’t going anywhere without a set of tires, but many drivers often underestimate their importance. Without proper maintenance, checkups and overall care, tires can quickly become a hazard while driving. Luckily, the knowledge required to keep tabs on your tires is quite simple, and easy to follow.
Proper tire care and maintenance requires knowing how to check things like tread depth, identify defects or damages, and keep tire pressure at the recommended vehicle specs. If you’ve never thought twice about your tires, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the information that could save you costly repairs, while guarding the lives of you and your family at the same time.
UNDERSTANDING TREAD DEPTH
Whether we’re talking about summer, winter or all-season tires, tread depth matters a whole lot. Certain tires come with different levels of tread depth necessary to function properly. For instance, winter tires tend to have deeper and mightier treads than summer tires, for proper gripping on ice and snow. Regardless, too little tread depth is a massive danger that drastically cuts down on stopping power and handling. If you are driving around on tires with very little tread depth during a rainstorm, you could easily lose control of your car, or be unable to brake in time to avoid hitting the car in front of you.
Tread depth is mandated by Canadian law, with a federal minimum as the baseline. However, certain provinces have their own strict guidelines when it comes to tread depth, which is why you should check to make sure yours are up to standard. The current breakdown of tread depth laws are as follows:Federal Law: 1.6mm
Alberta Law: 3.2mm above tread wear indicator bars
British Columbia: 1.6mm for summer and all-season tires, and 3.5mm for winter tires
New Brunswick: 1.6mm
Newfoundland & Labrador: 1.5mm
Nova Scotia: 3mm
Prince Edward Island: 1.6mm
Yukon: 1.6mm for summer and all-season tires, and 4mm for winter tires
It’s good practice to keep an eye on your tire tread depth, especially during the second and third years of operation. Canadian drivers tend to go through tires fairly regularly, with many opting for separate summer and winter sets to deal with the differing seasons. If you swap your tires multiple times a year, both sets will last longer than just one set of all-seasons, but you may inadvertently forget to check your tread depth as a result. It’s good practice to ask your mechanic or tire shop to check your tread depth during each change, just to make sure.
Otherwise, you may check your tread depth by yourself using an expensive and specialized tread gauge, which will deliver accurate results. You can also do a quick test of your tread depth by inserting a good old fashioned Canadian quarter between the treads in various spots on the tire, though we do not recommend this method if you’re looking for exact results.
HOW TO PREVENT PREMATURE TREAD WEAR
Many drivers aren’t aware of the necessary practices required to expand the longevity and lifespan of tires, and they end up paying more out of pocket as a result. To prevent yourself from buying new sets of tires before you’re required to do so, you should abide by the following practices:
- Maintain the correct pressure for each of your tires. We recommend doing this at least once a month, or bi-weekly during heavy seasonal changes such as fall-to-winter, or winter-to-spring. Fluctuations in outdoor temperature mixed with regular driving will cause the tires to either expand or deflate, affecting their surface contact with the road beneath. If your tire pressure is too high, tread wear will be concentrated in the center of the tire, whereas low tire pressure will cause uneven wear on the inner and outer edges. Proper tire pressure keeps the car running at optimal condition, which will increase the lifespan of your tires, provide safer and smoother handling, and reduce fuel consumption.
- Lay off the gas pedal whenever possible. While we all enjoy the thrill of launching off a green light from time to time, the truth is that tires wear out faster as you drive your car harder. The same goes for heavy braking, which puts more pressure on the tires to provide stopping power. Stick shift drivers can avoid tire wear by laying off the brakes entirely, and downshifting as they approach red lights or stop signs.
- Make sure to get an occasional wheel alignment if your mechanic or tire shop determines they are off balance. As you drive, you’ll experience bumps in the road along with suspension flexing, which will cause your wheels to be unaligned. This puts strain on the tires which can lead to uneven tread wear, which should be avoided. Plus, you’ll enjoy a much better driving experience.
- Have your tires rotated periodically, as per the car manufacturer’s recommended schedule. This spreads out tire wear evenly across all four tires, which will prolong their lifespan. Other benefits include much better traction and handling, improved cornering performance, and great levels of safety, which shouldn’t be underestimated.
Tire tread depth is a serious thing that every driver should take notice of. Luckily, it’s easy to get into the habit of checking your tread depth, especially if you’re a Canadian driver used to swapping tires in sync with seasonal changes. The rest is preventative maintenance that you can do whenever you’d like, in order to maximize the lifespan of your tires. Never drive on worn-out tires, or you may suffer a catastrophic accident, or at the very least, a significant fine.
Here at DriveAxis, we pride ourselves on performing a rigorous inspection process on all of our stellar pre-owned vehicles, right down to the tires they’re running on. If you’re thinking about buying a new car, contact us today, and we’ll help you choose the right one to peel away, safely of course! Worried about getting approved for financing? Don’t be. We handle that in-house, and we approve everyone, regardless of credit history or current score!