Tires are one of the most important pieces of your car – not just because they actually let your move, but because they are one of the most important safety tools your car has. As the increasing amount of research and development of tires sends prices up and up, many people are left wondering “How do I get my money’s worth out of my tires?” Believe it or not, there’s a lot of easy tips and tricks that can help you do just that.
Over-inflated or under-inflated tires are one of the biggest reasons tires wear unevenly and prematurely. To prevent this from happening, check your tires at least once a month to see if the tire pressure is right. If you aren’t sure what the correct tire pressure is, check your car’s driver’s side door panel, there’s usually a sticker there indicating what the correct pressure your tires should be at. Tire gauges can be bought for as little as $2.00 both in stores and online.
A wheel alignment is an adjustment of your car’s basic suspension components. A bad alignment is usually most obvious when your steering wheel “pulls” to the left or right, but there are other things that an alignment can affect besides the direction your wheels what to go in. An alignment adjusts your car’s camber, or the angle at which your tire is pointing. If a wheel’s camber is off, a tire can wear unevenly on one specific side, causing the tires to need replacement. An alignment can be checked fairly easily by professionals and of you feel there may be an alignment problem, ask that it be checked the next time you head in for an oil change.
Rotating the tires is the simple act of moving the rear wheels and tires to the front, and the front to the rear. This extends tread life because front tires wear quicker than rear ones due to the fact that front tires are the tires you steer with. By rotating at regular intervals, tire wear can be “evened out” among all four tires so the front two don’t have to be replaced before the rear two. Tire rotation is recommended every other oil change, or 6 months, whichever comes first.
Every time you head in for an oil change, one question you’ll usually hear is “Do you want conventional or synthetic oil?” Though this seems like a simple decision, this actually brings up more questions like “What kind should I use in my car?” or “Is the difference really worth the extra money?” Below we’ve listed some of the main differences between the oils and some useful information to help determine what kind is right for you.
Conventional Oil is the “traditional” motor oil. Conventional is derived from crude oil and has additives that help with heat tolerance and viscosity. When purchasing a “regular” oil change, this is the oil usually being used. It usually comes in a black bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Oil changes for conventional are usually recommended at 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first.
Synthetic Oil is derived from crude oil and has additives just like Conventional, however this version of the oil is “synthesized” – in other words, the oil is modified at the molecular level. It is also distilled. It usually comes in a silver bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Synthetic Oil Changes are usually recommended at 5,000 miles or 5 months, whichever comes first.
What Oil Should I Use?
There is no “wrong time” to use Synthetic over Conventional, because it is fact that Synthetic lasts longer and holds up better. However, this doesn’t mean Conventional is bad. Conventional is fine for cars that are daily drivers that have a “regular” commute (15 minutes or longer.) Synthetic is better for cars that drive in extreme temps (a New York winter or an Arizona Summer, for example) or make short trips commonly (conventional may not heat up enough in short trips.) Synthetic is also useful in dusty climates. Synthetic is sometimes recommended in the owner’s manual, in which case that oil should be used. Synthetic can also be useful in high milage cars, but is not necessary unless the manual requires it. In short, conventional is fine for the average daily driver, but synthetic will usually be the better option.