There are closed treads, open treads, all season tires, snow tires, studded tires and tires with warranties ranging anywhere from 40,000 miles to 85,000 miles. But according to local tire experts, keeping tires rolling depends on regular care and maintenance.

“Checking tire pressure and following the tire specifications are the two most important things to do for maintaining tires,” said Kurt Hamel, market manager for area VIP Tires. “Follow the recommendations on the door placard on your vehicle, not the ones on your individual tires. That’s where you will get the most accurate information for your specific vehicle.”

Sean LeBlanc, store manager at Sullivan Tire and Auto Service in Lewiston, has a handy formula to remember when it comes to checking tire pressure.

“For every 10 degrees rise in the temperature, you want to inflate your tire pressure by 1 psi (pounds per square inch) to maintain optimal pressure in the tires,” said LeBlanc. He noted this winter’s temperature range of below zero on one day followed by 40 degrees on another would mean a 4 psi increase. “This is just a guideline that I often recommend.”

Matt Walsh, department chair for the automotive department at Central Maine Community College, advises drivers not to rely solely on dashboard warning systems that indicate problems with tire pressure.

“Those lights on your dash don’t come on until there’s a pressure difference of 7 psi which can be significant,” said Walsh, also noting that it doesn’t indicate which tire has the pressure problem.

The change in seasons from winter to spring is a good time to evaluate the condition of tires say the experts, noting that all studded tires must be removed by May 1.

“Winter tires should be taken off soon as well,” said Hamel. “Of course, with the winter we’ve had, there might still be snow in June.”

LeBlanc added that the snow and cold of this aggressive winter season can also create other problems for tire wear.

“With rough road conditions and potholes, tires can take a beating,” said LeBlanc. “Wheel alignments can go out, front ends can have bent control arms and vehicles can develop loose tie rods. Maine winters are not good on cars.”

Walsh recommends having wheel alignments at least two times a year and rotating tires every 6,000 miles.

“If you have an oil change every 3,000 miles, then you can remember to rotate your tires on every other oil change,” said Walsh.

When it comes to purchasing new tires, LeBlanc advised buying tires in pairs or replacing all four tires at a time. He recognizes that car owners get frustrated when he advises them to buy more than the single tire that needs to be replaced. He suggested that the long-term benefits will pay off with the extra purchase.

“You want to have even wear among tires and replacing just one of them can create problems,” said LeBlanc. “At minimum, you should consider replacing two at a time to insure even wear and tear. On some vehicles, it makes sense to replace all four tires. The extra expense now will prevent more significant tire problems in the future.”

Hamel believes that maintaining tires has become easier for the consumer with many shops now offering free tire inspections. In addition, most dealers offer tire warranties as well as packages with follow-up tire rotation, wheel re-balancing, and wheel alignment throughout the life of the tire. These services vary in price, conditions and restrictions but can be a cost effective way to get maximum mileage from your tire purchase.


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