Tires - The Front Line


Staff member
Nov 13, 2006
By Paul, BAT Auto Technical

There aren't too many parts of our vehicles that see the front lines of abuse more than the tires on our vehicles. Given what they give in exchange for the service they require is really not a lot in comparison. First and foremost is the correct pressure. So what is the correct pressure? The first reference we have is the vehicles manufacturer's recommendation for tire pressure. This information is on the sidewall of all tires. Often times this provides the ideal pressure for ideal driving situations ...How many of us have ideal driving? Lets look at who may know more about tire pressures, the manufacturer of the tire or the vehicle manufacturers .My experience has always been to follow the tire manufacturers recommended pressure. I find for most vehicles 35 psi seems to be the standard pressure for most S & T speed rated tires. Higher speed rated tires seem to call for 44 Psi.

Another factor for maximum tire life is rotation & this is especially true for front wheel drive vehicles. Front wheel drive vehicle not only use the front wheels for the drive wheels but also for steering which adds two forces to the tires which will wear them twice as fast so rotation every 5,000 miles is important to equalize the wear on all 4 tires. Tire rotation on rear wheel drive vehicles is adequate every 7500 miles because driveline forces & steering forces are more balanced.

Next, proper alignment of all four wheels is very important on front wheel drive. Having only the front end aligned on a front wheel drive vehicle is a waste of time & money, the rear wheel alignment can be off as much as the front. Many front wheel drive vehicles have limited or no adjustment for Camber or Caster & this usually isn't a concern unless suspension or steering parts are worn, the Toe Adjustment is usually the major problem with tire wear on vehicles. If you notice the inner or outer edges of the tire wearing, this is usually a problem with the Toe portion of the alignment being off specs & easily adjusted.

Most Four Wheel Alignments are about the same or less than the cost as a new tire so it pays to have a four wheel alignment done at least every 20,000 miles or whenever you notice the vehicle pulling or handling differently.

Don't forget your spare tire either, it's useless if it's flat or has little air pressure. Also air temperature affects tire pressure. A tire that reads 35 psi at 32° F will not read that at 70° F. Seasonal tire pressure adjustments will make a difference in the wear & handling of your vehicle.

The good news is that all of this requires little effort or money ...A tire gauge, a source of compressed air & a yearly or semi yearly alignment. With all this, new tires should run into 30 to 40K miles.

And Always, Adjust tire pressures cold.

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