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Getting your tires serviced regularly is an important part to vehicle safety and prolonging the life of your tires. We get many questions about basic tire services such as whats the difference between alignment and rotation and when do I need my tires balanced? Today we will go over some of the most basic services, the recommended frequency of service, the average cost of the service, and how to identify when you need one.
4 Basic Tire Services Every Car Owner Should Know
First lets start with the basics of Alignment, Balancing, Mounting, and Rotation. These are where we get the most questions about services and how they work. The graphic below brakes down the fundamentals, but then we will dive a little deeper in each one and some additional services.
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Below we will dive into each one of the tire services listed above with more detail and address a few additional common services.
What is an Alignment?
While an alignment is commonly associated with tires, it is actually a repair to your car’s suspension. The suspension system on your vehicle is what attaches the walls onto the body. An alignment is a fine adjustment of the angle that the tires sit on the car. Install avg free windows 7. When you change the angle that the tire attaches to the car body, you also changes the way the tire sits on the road.
Three common terms associated with alignments are camber, caster and toe. These are the angles that get adjusted in order to align your suspension correctly. Click here for more info on these terms.
How Much Does it Cost?
The average alignment will run you between $75 and $100. That’s assuming you need only your front two tires aligned which are critical for steering. The cost can double on a four tire alignment. A lot of shops recommend doing a tire rotation when you do an alignment to counteract uneven tread wear that you may have created while driving a mis-aligned vehicle.
When is an Alignment Recommended?
An alignment is recommended 1 to 2x per year under normal driving conditions. Some of your need for an alignment will depend on road conditions and how well you avoid curbs and potholes. If you hit something hard with your tire, you may need to get an alignment.
How Do I Know If I Need an Alignment?
A few tell tale signs that an alignment is needed are uneven tire wear and if you feel the car pulling to one side when you drive.
Where Can I Get an Alignment Near Me?
Most garages, auto repair places, and body shops can do an alignment. It requires specialized computer equipment so places like Jiffy Lube, Mieneke, and Midas may not be able to perform one. Check here for a Tire Alignment Near Me.
What is Tire Balancing?
Tire balancing is a measurement of the weight distribution across your tires. So if your tires are found to out of balance it means one or more of your tires is carrying more or less weight then the others. When the weight distribution is not equally spread across all four tires it can effect the entire wheel including the rim and the axle. The process of balancing tires is done by using counterweights to restore even weight distribution across the vehicle.
How Much Does it Cost?
Having tires balanced is a really common tire service and you shouldn’t pay more then $75.
When is Balancing Recommended?
Every 3000 to 6000 miles. If you experience vibration issues with your steering wheel, seat or floor at highway speeds. Also if you have new tires mounted on your vehicle. Installation and balancing are often packaged together at most shops.
How Do I Know If I Need My Tires Balanced?
Unbalanced tires can cause the car to rattle and vibrate, suspension damage, and difficulty steering. You will normally experience these vibration issues at highway speeds. Imbalances can be the result of an improper alignment or rotation, so of you have issues and you have recently had another service done, you made need balancing.
Where Can I Get My Tires Balanced Near Me?
Body shops, garages, auto repair shops, and tire service centers can do balance jobs. Find tire balancing near me here.
What is Tire Mounting?
Mounting tires is the process of putting tires on your vehicle. This may be because you have got new tires to replace old ones or perhaps or switching to winter tires. Wither scenario results in mounting a tire onto your vehicle. Some people refer to mounting as installation. For the purpose of this article we will define mounting as putting tires on the car and installation as putting the tire on the rim.
How Much Does it Cost?
The actual cost of tire mounting is about $15 per tire. This would likely be if you brought your tires to a shop and asked for just mounting. In most scenarios though you are probably buying a new or buying a used tire and some places will mount for free with a tire purchase. You may also want to consider an alignment, balance, or rotation along with mounting.
You can also mount a tire yourself. When you change a tire on the side of the road, you are performing the tire mounting process. You should be aware that you can mount tires wrong if you have bought directional tires.
When is Mounting Recommended?
Anytime you need to change tires. This can often be associated with if your current tire is unsafe such as low tread or older then 6 years.
Where Can I Get My Tires Mounted Near Me?
Any tire shop, auto repair, body shop will mount tires for you. Find tire mounting near me here.
What is Tire Installation?
Tire installation is the process of putting a tire onto the rim. It requires a “tire mounting machine”. It isn’t difficult as a process, but can be tough to get tire bead over the rim. You also can’t mount a tire while it is inflated. In many cases installation requires first removing the old tire and then installing the new one. The process is generally install a new tire on the rim and then get it mounted onto the car.
How Much Does it Cost?
Installation is typically about $45 per tire. There are sometimes additional installation costs like a new valve stem will cost $3 per tire. If you are disposing of an old tire, there is always a disposal fee which can vary from state to state. Typically disposal is about $4 per tire. You may also want to consider mounting, balancing and/or an alignment when you get tires installed.
When is Installation Recommended?
Whenever you need new tires. This could be because you have low tread or your tires are older then 6 years.
Where Can I Get My Tires Installed Near Me?
Tire shops, body shops, and auto repair shops will perform this routine tire service. Find local places at Tire Installation Near Me.
What is Tire Rotation?
Rotation is the process of moving the tires from one position to another, putting the front tires on the back of the vehicle, and the back tires on the front. Basically switching tire positions in a logical order. It is essential for even tire wear. Since the weight of the front and back of the vehicle differs, unrotated tears would wear uneven. It’s an important tire service to get to extend the life of your tires. There are three basic types of tire rotation – rearward cross, x-pattern, and forward cross. You can read more about patterns here.
How Much Does it Cost?
Typically about $100 to $120. Typically a dealership charges more then an independent tire shop.
When is Rotating Your Tires Recommended?
Every 5000 miles or as recommended by the tire brands manufacturer. You should also consider this if you notice uneven tread wear between all your tires.
How Do I Know If I Need My Tires Rotated?
If you have uneven tire wear. Rotation should be a regular part of your car’s maintenance. You shouldn’t wait until you have uneven tire wear. If you aren’t sure ask your mechanic.
Where Can I Get My Tires Rotated Near Me?
Body shops, tire shops, and auto mechanics can all perform this service. Technically you can do it yourself, but having ot professionally done is more efficient. You can fine Tire Rotation Near Me here.
Tire Repair Services
What is Tire Repair?
A tire repair is a service when you have a whole in your tire. The most typical repairs come in the form of a patch or a plug. A patch is a higher quality fix, more long term, but more expensive. A plug is a quick fix and cheap. You should only consider a tire repair to a whole on the tread. If you have a damage to the sidewall, you should consider replacement.
How Much Does it Cost?
Depending on the extent of the damage a normal repair will run between $10 and $20. You can also get a patch and plug set and do it yourself.
When is Tire Repair Recommended?
When you have repairable damage to your tire, within the tread path. Anything outside of the tread path you may need to consider tire replacement.
How Do I Know If I Need My Tires Repaired?
If your tire can;t hold air consistently, it indicates that you may have whole in your tire.
Where Can I Get a Tire Repair Near Me?
Any auto shop, body shop, or garage can do a plug for you. A tire shop will do a good patch. To find a local place go to Tire Repair Near Me.
What is Tire Retreading?
Retreading, also known as recapping, is a refurbishing process performed to replace worn out treads. A retread is applied to the casing and the tires become almost new again. Not all tires though qualify for the retreading process and it’s not typical for passenger car tires to be retreaded. This process is mostly done on big trucks and commercial vehicles. Before a retread is done a safety inspection must be completed first. Doing a retread saves about 90% of the materials to create a new tire and costs is about 20% that of a new tire.
How Much Does it Cost?
Considering the cost for big truck tires can run for $400-$500, a retread will run between $150 and $200. You can save a significant amount. A retread is only as good though as the quality of the casing.
When is Tire Retreading Recommended?
When you have a big truck or commercial vehicle that needs replacement tires. Retreading is a good option to save money, prolong the life span of the tire, and divert waste from landfills.
How Do I Know If I Need My Tires Retreading?
They are worn and ready to be replaced. Retreading in an option as opposed to purchasing new tires.
Where Can I Get Tire Retreading Near Me?
Retreading is only done at specific facilities. It is not a common service you can find at your local tire shop. Find Tire Retreading Near Me.
Tire Air Inflation and Pressure Check
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What is Tire Inflation and Pressure Check?
Tire inflation and a pressure check is a routine maintenance that is to ensure your tires are filled to the correct PSI. Over inflated and under inflated tires are potentially dangerous and affect your fuel economy and decrease the lifespan of the tires. You can check the pressure of a tire with a pressure gauge which provides a readout of the PSI. You then add or remove air from it in order to meet the manufacturers PSI recommendation.
How Much Does it Cost to Inflate Tires with Air?
Many places will actually do this service for free. For a tire shop it offers them the opportunity to sell you new tires if your tires are leaking air and are unsafe. Some gas stations have pay pumps that cost $1 to $2 for filling your tires with air. They also have a tire pressure gauge so you can check the PSI.
When is Inflation and a Pressure Check Recommended?
The NHTSA recommends checking your tire pressure once per month. Then adding or removing air as necessary. Once per month is too frequent for many people, but I feel that every 3 to 6 months is fine as long as you aren’t seeing any issues. If you just bought used tires, I recommend checking them once per week for the first four weeks.
How Do I Know If I Need My Tires Need Air?
Signs of a tire needing air could be that it looks flat or as uneven tread wear. A tire worn on the outside of the tread is often due to under-inflation. Over inflation is an issue as well and you will see wear in the middle of the tread.
Where Can I Fill My Tire With Air and Check the Pressure?
Gas stations and tire shops are the most common places to put air in your tires. Find Free Air for Tires Near Me.
Tire Services Conclusion
While tires are the most important safety feature on your vehicle, they are often the part most people know little about. There are many different tire services you can get, but we have listed the most common. In addition to these services, it’s important that you regularly check your tires and keep them properly inflated. Regular servicing of your tires is important for safety. There are other benefits such as prolonged tire life, which means saving money. Additionally the less tires you use, you help divert them from landfills.
Of all the preventative maintenance on our cars, new tires are often the most expensive parts of the process. Oil changes cost about $30 a pop, new brakes are under $100 and regular tune-ups range around $100. When we need a new set of tires though, we are looking to spend at least $200, and that is for the bottom of the line tires and usually without installation charges.
Saving money on tires is important in today’s economic climate. Almost everybody is trying to save money one way or another, and the need of new tires usually creeps up on us. Most of us don’t budget away money every week for new tires since it isn’t something that you really expect anytime soon. This means that we often have to pull a few hundred dollars from our savings accounts or have to put down our credit cards to pay for the tires, leading to a long period of payments we don’t want or need.
There are plenty of ways to save money on your tire purchases. You can buy tires online to save money with comparison shopping, clip some tire coupons, mail in a rebate, use credit card rewards or find a limited time sale.
Buy Tires Online
It is now possible to buy tires easily online. A lot of people have learned over the years that you can get pretty much anything you want cheaper online than in stores if you look hard enough.
Some people will shy away from buying tires online though. They are scared about the shipping charges and installation issues. There are sites like TireBuyer that have FREE shipping, and you can go to a store like Sears or Walmart to get a cheap tire installation after they get delivered to your home.
This is the age old way to save money on pretty much anything. You might consider this old fashioned, but it works. You don’t even have to “clip coupons” anymore. With the help of the internet, you can find coupons for tires online easily on sites like this one and on tire retailer websites. The coupons are usually good for month long deals that will save you a certain amount off of the price of a particular brand in a given month.
These are deals that you usually get straight from the manufacturer. Smart tire installation companies will post these deals on their websites or have them in plain sight in their shops. Tire rebates usually get you the best deals on tires. The only problem with these deals is you have to pay for the tires in full, and then wait weeks for a check to come from the manufacturer. All major brands like Goodyear, Bridgestone, Firestone, Hancook and Pirelli have tire rebates available.
Credit Card Rewards for Tires
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Lots of tire installation companies have a special company credit card. You can use these credit cards for regular purchases that have nothing to do with tires or your car, but they will accumulate points that you can use for a new set of tires.
There are also special rewards that you can get when you return for tires with the credit card. Say you have a Goodyear credit card and you are buying their tires from their certified installers. There are special rebates available only to credit card holders that will often get twice as much back than those without the card. Goodyear and Firestone both have their own credit card services like this.
Used Tires for Sale
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Sometimes this is the best option to get the cheapest tires possible. You won’t get perfect tires, but you’ll save a heck of a lot of money buying used tires instead of brand new ones. The best way to find used tires from a respectable mechanic would be to ask around for a recommendation or use Yelp for reviews.
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Yelp reviewers will often leave reviews telling you about the quality of the used tires and about how much they cost. They will also sometimes notify you about special discounts that you can qualify for. Do everybody else a favor if you do this, and leave your own review after you get your used tires.