Julie took a sip of her coffee before she asked me about her tires. Her budget is often very tight but she's very business savvy. She owns a little coffee shop I love to visit after work.
"My car is costing me a fortune. I need to save money - especially on tires," she confided.
An easy way to prolong the life of your tires is through regular rotation. It's hard to believe but each of those tires on your car will wear differently. Some will need replacing before others do. That's why you can save money having them checked and rotated regularly. Even more importantly, it could save your life.
Used tires are hard to dispose of, too. So if everyone can help by making them last longer we'll all save money and help the environment in the process. It's easy to do and my sister, Julie, found out a few simple ways she can get more out of each set of tires- all it cost her was a cup of coffee.
Julie was surprised when I told her many tire dealers offer free rotation of tires for their customers. Julie talked to the dealership about what she needed and they were happy to help out. If you find you're not happy with a dealer, try one of the many other tire retailers wanting your business. You might have to shop around a bit to get the service you need, but it will pay off.
Julie's no fool, straight away she told me the only reason they will do it free is because they hope to gain extra business from repairs. This is true, but if she doesn't get the repairs done there -- sooner or later she's going to have to get them done somewhere. In the meantime, they're also looking out for the safety of her family and the longevity of her investments- Her car and that set of tires she's paid a lot of money for.
I suggested she get a second opinion from another mechanic or dealer if she was worried about repairs. All dealerships want your business, but more than anything they want your repeat business, so they won't risk losing your business by charging for unnecessary repairs.
If you are confronted with repairs and feel uncomfortable with the cost, get a written quote so you can compare prices and get the best deal. Remember that you can save more money by fixing a problem before it gets too serious and no amount is worth more than your life or your family's.
The aim of tire rotation is to prolong the life of the tires. Your vehicle's manual will have the manufacturers recommendations, if it doesn't then every 6000 miles is a good guideline for rotation. If there are signs of irregular wear, have the vehicle checked by a qualified technician. The first tire rotation is the most important.
Sometimes irregular tire wear can be corrected by rotation. The illustration below gives some rotation patterns which are common.
Typical Rotation Patterns
If your tires are showing evidence of uneven wear, consult your dealer and get a technician to check for misalignment, imbalance or mechanical problems. Sometimes front and rear tires have different inflation pressures, so adjust according to the tires new position.
Remember that a spare tire designed for "Temporary Use Only" is exactly that and should not be included in the rotation pattern.
If you have a matching full-size tire as a spare and wish to include it in the tire rotation process, use one of the patterns shown.
Unidirectional tires and tires with asymmetric tread designs cannot be included in a standard rotation. Some vehicles may also have different sized tires on front and back axles, so rotation restrictions will apply. Consult your owner's manual or ask your tire dealer for recommendations in these cases.
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