As Kenny Rogers almost sang, when it comes to tires, you’ve gotta know when to fill ‘em, know how to change ‘em. But if you’re not a pro (or Kenny Rogers), tire maintenance can be something of an ordeal. So here are some quick tips on how to handle your tires when the pros aren’t there to help.
Tire maintenance tip 1: how to fill your tires
Overinflated and underinflated tires are the leading cause of blowouts. The good news is that they’re easy to avoid with just a little effort and attention. Having the right amount of air in your tires will help keep you safe behind the wheel. And, as an added bonus, you’ll get better gas mileage, too. Most new cars come with an automatic tire pressure monitoring system, but if your car doesn’t have one, checking your tire pressure is a snap.
Step 2: Check your car’s manual or the sticker inside your driver-side door to find the recommended pressure for your tires (this can vary between front and back on some vehicles).
Step 3: Remove the valve stem cap from each tire and push your gauge firmly against the valve to check your tire pressure. (Note: your tires should be cool when you do a pressure check.) Release the gauge quickly to avoid letting out too much air.
Step 4: If the pressure is low, head to the nearest gas station air pump. Attach the hose to your tire’s valve stem and press the handle to pump in air.
Most pumps have a gauge attached so you can monitor how much air you’re putting in. If you accidently overinflate your tires, you can bleed, or release, air to reach the recommended pressure. Simply press the center-pin on the valve stem.
Step 5: Check the pressure one last time before putting the cap back in place.
Most manufacturers advise checking your tire pressure every month. While it’s tempting for most of us to trust our eyes, modern tires can lose several pounds of pressure without looking flat. So grab your handy gauge and try to maintain a monthly routine. And be sure to check on the pressure of your spare from time to time — a flat spare is not much of a spare at all.
Tire maintenance tip 2: how to change a flat tire
At some point in your driving career, an unexpected flat tire is inevitable. If you have cell phone coverage and roadside service, you can call it in. But in case you’re out of range (or just a DIY-er), we have detailed instructions and a super cool video to show you how to fix a flat.
There’s plenty more to learn about tires, but knowing how to inflate and change them can make you a more confident driver. And it sure beats learning the hard way. Just remember, it’s okay to ask a professional if you feel like you’re in over your head.
For more do-it-yourself tips, check out all our How-To videos. And if you have a super secret shortcut or tip, leave it in the comments below.