| Car Life
a driver checks tire pressure

The wheel may be one of the best inventions known to man, but we still need the right tires and proper tire maintenance to make our car wheels keep turning.

Choose the correct tire

There may be more involved in buying new tires than you think. Here is what to look for when getting new treads.

  • Weather Requirements: The kind of tires you need may change with where you live. All-season tires near the Rockies in Colorado will be different than for someone who needs wet weather tires near the shores of North Carolina.
  • Tread Life: You want to get the most life out of your tires, so the grade you choose is important. Besides looking at the manufacturer’s wear rating and the tires’ warranty, look at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s required Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) ratings. The higher the number, the longer the tire’s tread will last.
  • Speed Rating: The higher the speed rating, the more you’re going to pay for your new tires. The first question to ask is: Am I really going to be driving 150 plus mph? Lowering your speed rating when you purchase tires will make them more affordable and you probably won’t notice a difference if you normally drive within speed limits.

Tire costs can add up. If you’re trying to save money by buying used tires, learn about some of the risks in our used tire guide.

How to fill your tires

You have tires, and you want to get the longest life out of them as possible. Knowing how to take care of your tires will help them have a long life on your vehicle.

Check your tires: Most tires or car manuals note the tire pressure units that tires on your vehicle should be inflated to for the best performance. You can purchase a tire gauge to check the pressure of your tires for under $10.

  • Remember to check your tire pressure when the tires are cool, wait 30 minutes after driving for them to cool down.
  • Unscrew the valve cap and press the gauge onto the valve stem, keep the gauge pressed on the valve stem for a few seconds, and then get the pressure reading from the gauge.

Filling tires: Unless you have a higher-powered air compressor at home, most people find it easiest to air up their tires at a local gas station equipped with an air compressor. Some gas stations offer their air compressors for free, while others charge around $.50.

  • Make sure your car is close enough to the air compressor so that the hose can reach all tires that need air.
  • Turn on the air compressor and remove all valve caps to the tires that need air. Put them somewhere safe, such as in your pocket.
  • Press the air compressor hose onto the valve stem, you should hear the air filling up the tire and feel it in the air compressor hose. Check the tire pressure on the gauge of the air compressor.

How to clean your tires

They may not be your first priority in cleanliness, but there is an art to getting your tires squeaky clean on your car.

  • Whether at home or at a car wash, the first step to a clean tire is spraying all of them down with water.
  • After wet, apply your cleaner of choice with a spray bottle, cloth, or brush.
  • Use a bristled brush to clean off grime and dirt from the tire, and sponges for cleaning wheels.
  • Rinse your tires with water.
  • Dry your tires or let them air dry. For a shine, add a tire shining product of your choice.

Car and tire maintenance is just the first step of taking care of your vehicle. Cover your car with auto insurance from Direct Auto Insurance by contacting us at one of our locations or calling us at 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732).

Want to keep reading? Click the links below to learn more about tires!

How to Tell If You Need New Tires

How to Change a Flat Tire in 7 Easy Steps [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Tires Go Flat & Batteries Die in Cold Weather