How To Save Your Summer Tires and Use Them for More Than Two Years

By now, hopefully, everyone who lives in an area where the average temperatures are above 45F (7C) has already changed their winter tires. So now they are running in their smooth, less noisy summer shoes and hope that they will last long enough for the price they paid for them to be worth it.
Burnout in parking lot 7 photos
Photo: Viralhog/YouTube
Brand new tireworn out tireTires in the sunWinter tiresCamaro doing burnout in parking lotWheel alignment
While sometimes it is just about pure luck whether a brand new tire will last or not, it depends on the driver most of the time. If they do what they have to do, the summer set will last for more than two or three years. The question is: are they doing the right thing? Here are a few steps about how you can save your tires and use them for more miles.

First, don't drive above or under pressure. No kidding. If a tire's pressure is too high or too low, it will wear faster on the center or sides, respectively. A good idea would be to fill them with nitrogen. This gas is known to have small volume variations depending on the temperature. Moreover, since its molecules are larger than oxygen molecules, they can hardly escape through the tire's rubber.

Secondly, check your wheels' alignment! Keep in mind that newer vehicles often have adjustments for the rear axle, so don't look only for the front ones. If the wheels are set up right, then the contact surface will be even, and thus there will be less stress on the tires. Check both the toe-in and the camber for both axles. Moreover, if the tires are correctly aligned, your car will get a higher fuel efficiency. Last but not least, the car's handling will be improved. If you have squeaky tires on every corner, then it's time for a check.

Wheel alignment
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Then, remember tires are made to endure filth, but not just any filth. I often see people bragging about how they keep their cars in garages. But the garage floor must be clean! Keep in mind that tire compounds don't cope well with petroleum products. If they are sitting on oil, gasoline, or other chemicals, they will start to lose their properties. So keep your car's tires away from that and, if they do get in touch with those (from a gas station, maybe), go ahead and wash them.

Check your tires regularly. Even if you have nitrogen in them, even if the alignment is done, and they never set the thread on a patch of oil, they can still get punctured by a nail on the road and slowly lose pressure. Drive slowly in a quiet area, on dry pavement, and listen to any unusual noises coming from the tires. If one of them has a bump on it due to a pothole and you decided to replace it, change its pair from the same axle as well. Never change one wheel on a side unless you have no other option.

Tire rotation is a must, not a myth! Except, of course, when you have different wheel sizes front and rear. In that case, you can't do anything about it. Otherwise, you can swap them in your driveway. It would be ideal to rotate the wheels every 5,000 miles (app. 8,000 km). Each wheel must reach each end of the car. Don't forget the spare wheel, too, if you have one.

Also keep in mind to check the suspension. A worn-out shock absorber or spring will make the wheel jump, leading to different wear. Moreover, check the tie-rods and bushings. A worn-out bush or joint will affect wheel alignment, which will damage your tire.

worn out tire
Photo: William Ross/Flickr
Watch for potholes and curves, and try to avoid them. If you must park over a curve, approach it very slowly and climb on it. Don't use the car's inertia to do that, since it might break the inner linings of the tire, and then you'll need to replace them in pairs.

Last but certainly not least, driving style. If you're driving too aggressively, then the tire will suffer. Leaving the parking lot in a cloud of smoke or braking at the last moment won't do any good to your tires.

So, how many miles are you doing with your summer tires? Leave me a comment in the section below.
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About the author: Tudor Serban
Tudor Serban profile photo

Tudor started his automotive career in 1996, writing for a magazine while working on his journalism degree. From Pikes Peaks to the Moroccan desert to the Laguna Seca, he's seen and done it all.
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