Proper maintenance can save you money on tires in the long run

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Most people don't realize one of the most expensive things you buy over and over again can last much longer than you think.

An average set of tires costs about $650, so making them last as long as possible is key.  There are several ways to keep your vehicle rolling along without constantly rolling out your credit card to pay for a new set.

"A good set of tires can sometimes be the difference in a simple car repair, or something major.  I would say the biggest thing right now regarding tire costs is pothole damage in Indiana," said Blaine Skaggs, a service consultant with Ray Skillman Hyundai.

The pothole damage to your tires can be made worse when your tires aren't in good shape.  A better maintained tire can withstand rough roads.  Regardless of road conditions, proper tire maintenance is vital.

"Without a doubt, tires are expensive.  You know, whenever you are spending $600 or $700 on a set of four tires, you want to maximize the life of them as long as possible," said Skaggs.

Proper tire care is about cost and safety.  That's why the condition of your tires and the amount of tread you have on them is key.  Stopping distances are a major effect of worn tires.  If you get down to 1/16 of an inch of tread, it takes about ten car lengths at highway speed to stop on wet pavement.  That's far longer than it takes for a tire that's not worn down.

You also want to check your tire pressure.  Many drivers don't do it unless they think something is wrong.  By then, it can be too late.

"The best thing to do as far as tire pressure, is to check how much your tires need.  There's a little plaque right in the door jamb and it will show you the factory settings on what your tire is supposed to be.  Just looking at your tire won't tell you anything " said Skaggs.

A good exterior tire gauge is a good bet.  Also, don't forget to rotate your tires, front to back.  If you don't, they can wear poorly and cut down on the life of the tire and their effectiveness.  Sometimes a good rotation plan can double the life of your tires!

"In our case, we make it simple to remember.  Here at Hyundai, we recommend rotating tires every 7,500 miles, or every other oil change," said Skaggs.

Most places will rotate tires for free, if you bought your tires there. Some will do it even if you didn't buy tires at their business.  Without rotation, tires can develop what's known as cupping or tire chop, making the ride uncomfortable.  A good tire with a good reputation is also key.  Some brands wear much quicker than others.  That will cause you to have to change your tires frequently, which will drive up the amount of money you spend.  Some brands will last longer than 20,000 miles.

Car alignments and good wheel balancing can make the ride much smoother and cut down on tire wear.  Don't wait to get an alignment or an alignment check.  Most people don't bother until they feel their vehicle pulling one way or another.  Do an alignment check twice a year.  You may not need an actual alignment, but at least check your vehicle.

Here's another money saver that can save the life of your tires. Low-profile tires look sporty, but they don't stand up to road damage such as potholes, compared to a tire with a larger sidewall.  The smaller sidewall on a low-profile tire means there's less tire to absorb troubles.

Finally, most people don’t have one set of tires for rough months, and another for spring and summer, but it's not a bad idea if you can rotate them out.  If that's not in your budget, buy all-season tires that can work in all conditions.  Whatever your do, keep your tires properly maintained to keep from bouncing up and down the roads.

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