With costs and expenses rising across many aspects of our lives, it’s more important than ever to try and save a little extra cash where possible. Unfortunately, the automobile industry is facing similar challenges to many manufacturing and service areas right now, leading to an overall increase in general vehicle maintenance prices, including tire service and replacements. But don’t worry – it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some easy ways to cut down on vehicle maintenance costs right now, and looking into how to save money on tires is a great place to start.
Tires are one of the key culprits when it comes to unexpected servicing costs, and even when you do everything right, you’ll still need to replace them every 30,000 – 50,000 kilometres or so. That’s why it’s essential to maintain them regularly: they will inevitably wear down over time, so the important thing is to extend their lifespan as much as possible. Doing this won’t just save you money. It’ll also make your vehicle easier to handle on a day-to-day basis. Looking after your tires with a proper tire repair service can reduce your overall fuel consumption, so it is an excellent pre-emptive investment.
The Cost of Inflation
First, you may be wondering why vehicle servicing and parts prices have been rising so quickly in recent months. The key lies in national and global inflation rates, which are rising sharply across the board. After an initial depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation rates have skyrocketed due to increased costs of goods and labour worldwide. Some of this can be attributed to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which is causing supply chain issues and manufacturing bottlenecks, as well as raising the cost of fuel worldwide. Partly, this is also an effect of the economic downturn caused by successive COVID waves, with many businesses and governments still reeling from the impact of several years of economic stagnation.
The Impact on the Auto Industry
The effects of inflation haven’t just affected global fuel and food prices. The knock-on effect on the auto industry has been tremendous, with suppliers increasing their prices to accommodate the rising costs of raw materials, logistics, and manufacturing. Ultimately, small businesses and service users end up paying the final bill, with tire brands like Continental, Goodyear, and Hankook raising their prices by as much as 15% in the last year. That’s all the more reason to focus on pre-emptive maintenance rather than paying a substantial cost for a whole new set of tires down the line.
How to Cut Down on Tire Servicing Costs
Maintain Proper Pressure
One of the simplest ways to save money on your tires is to check their pressure regularly. This is easy to do at home with a simple tire pressure gauge and can protect you from major wear and tear on your treads and a lot of gas per mile. If your tire pressure is too low or too high, you can cause unwanted friction to treads and sidewalls, which can even lead to blowouts in the long run. Tire pressure can change seasonally, so check in as temperatures rise and fall.
Monitor Tread Wear
There are a few early warning signs to watch out for regarding wear and tear of tire treads. Treadwear is a key indicator that your tires are nearing end-of-life or require a service, and it’s easy and free to check for signs of damage. Use a penny to check the depths of your tire’s grooves against the tread ridges that run around it – if the ridges are being worn unevenly or flush with the grooves, it’s high time to get them looked at. It’s a good idea to check for sidewall damage while you’re at it, as divots and dents can point towards issues with your car’s chassis and, therefore, should never be ignored.
Regular Wheel Alignments
A lot of different factors can have an impact on tire lifespan, as your wheels are ultimately bound up with your vehicle’s suspension system. The alignment of the suspension determines how much of your tires touch the road at any given time and the angle at which they meet the road surface. Poorly aligned wheels can disrupt steering, produce unwanted vibration, and wear tires down rapidly. To prevent these issues and increase the overall lifespan of your tires, regular wheel alignment should be completed every 2-3 years as part of a full auto tire service.
Rebalance Your Tires
Frequently, wheel alignment services will be combined with a tire rebalancing procedure. Balancing tires refers to the process of evenly distributing a vehicle’s weight across all four tires through the use of manually-attached weights and is often required as a result of regular tread wear. Any damage or wear can lead to your vehicle’s tires becoming imbalanced, so it’s essential to watch out for signs like uneven wear patterns and unwanted vibrations in your car. Spotting these warnings early will allow you to get a service in time and nip the problem in the bud.
Maintain Your Suspension
As noted, the condition of your car’s suspension determines much of your tires’ overall position and lifespan. As such, it’s important to have your suspension occasionally serviced to prevent tire wear. A well-maintained suspension reduces shock on tires, keeps your car’s axles in position, and maintains proper tire contact with the road. This ultimately prevents directional wear on tires and wheels and maintains proper caster, camber, and toe angles, reducing the damage your tires would otherwise take and the associated costs that might follow.
Regular Tire Rotation
Front tires and back tires will wear down at different rates, largely due to the increased torque and friction that front tires face when steering, accelerating, and braking. This can wear them down rapidly, so rotating your front and back tires every 5000 miles or so is important. This allows each pair of tires to wear down evenly, meaning you can replace the whole set at the end of their lifespan rather than swapping them out a pair at a time. As a bonus, this will also optimize traction and handling during the lifetime of your tires, giving you a smoother overall ride.
Avoiding Damage (Broken/Dented/Potholes/Curbs)
It’s no secret that Ottawa has a big pothole problem, largely caused by the constant freezing and thawing of our aging roads and highways. While you can’t avoid every bump in the road, you should try to steer clear of as many as possible, including approaching curbs at gentle speeds too. Too much wear and tear from potholes and curbs can damage your rims and knock your suspension out of alignment, leading to further tire problems down the line.
Avoid Heavy Loads
We’ve all been there before; two light trips back and forth or a heavy one-way ride? It may be tempting to cut down on fuel costs by taking only one journey with a heavy load, but it might be in your wallet’s best interest to take two trips. If you regularly exceed your vehicle’s recommended load weight, you’re likely to cause the sidewalls of your tires to buckle and split, and at the least, they’ll suffer from an excessive build-up of heat. If you’re unsure what your tire’s load index is, check the measurements on the sidewall for the last two-digit number listed, which you can then convert to kilograms using a standard conversion chart.
Adjust Your Driving Habits
No one likes to be told how they should be driving their car, but sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves that the key culprit behind a lot of tire damage is, in fact, ourselves! Bad driving habits, however easy they might be to pick up, can cause unnecessary stress on tires. Hard cornering, harsh braking, rapid acceleration, and sprinted driving can all lead to tire damage over time, as can dry steering when parked up. But by sticking to the speed limit and accelerating and decelerating gradually, you’ll protect your tires and save some gas and cash!
By following these handy tips, you can save yourself a great deal of money on replacement tires simply by extending the lifespan of the tires you already have. If you’re seeking an experienced and dedicated wheel and tire shop for all your tire balancing, rotation, repair, or installation needs or simply to chat about how best to protect your tires, then feel free to call us, and we’ll be happy to help you out.