How to Properly Check Your Tire Tread

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Performing regular maintenance on your vehicle will help keep your car running for as long as possible. Part of vehicle maintenance is making sure your tires are in proper working condition. While much car maintenance requires the work of a technician, this one of the things you can do yourself.

To check your tire tread, all you need is a penny. A penny substitutes for the traditional tire tread depth gauge. It’s important to determine the depth of your tire down to the 32nds of an inch, and a penny is just as accurate. Place the penny in the several tread grooves across your tire. You will also want to go around the circumference of the tire to ensure that there is no uneven wear.

Now, how do you determine the depth? Lincoln’s head should always be covered. If it is, then you have more then 2/32” of tread depth remaining. If it is not, you will need to get your tires replaced. According to most state laws, tires are legally worn out at 2/32” of tread depth.

It is important that you replace your tires when they’ve reached this depth as it’s a matter of safety. The less tread your tires have, the poorer their performance will be. Their resistance to hydroplaning in the snow greatly reduces, and traction in the snow essentially disappears. If you rotate your tires and change them out for new ones when necessary, you will not only keep your car in top of the line form but also keep yourself and your passengers safe.

 


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Five Easy Auto Fixes
Even with the advanced technology and computerized automotive systems that most vehicles come equipped with, there are still simple maintenance tasks that you can do that will save you time and money.

This list of DIY car maintenance projects requires few tools and no experience. If you've hung a picture or pounded a nail, you can tackle any one of them. By doing these jobs yourself, not only save money, but there are added benefits. And who knows, you just might like the hands-on experience enough that you'll move on to other DIY projects.

Check Your Tire Pressure and Properly Inflate Your Tires

The average consumer doesn’t realize the importance of properly inflated tires. If your tires are under-inflated, it can decrease your fuel economy, costing you hundreds of dollars. Take 15 minutes, once a month and make sure your tires are properly inflated. All you need is a tire pressure gauge and an air pump. If you don’t have an air pump, you can usually find one at a gas station.

Reducing fuel cost should not be the only reason you keep your tires properly inflated. Doing so can improve safety by improving handling during emergency braking and cornering, prolong tire life.

Tire Rotation

Tires tend to wear differently depending upon where they are on the vehicle. Front tires often wear faster than rear tires because braking and cornering is more demanding on them. Plus, you can save approximately $120 a year and all you need is an jack stand, tire iron, car jack, and about an hour of your time.

When rotating your tires, be sure to follow the rotation pattern laid out in your owners manual. Also, check for defects and premature wear. You may be able to spot a foreign object in your tire that is causing a leak.

Change Your Air Filter

Changing your air filter only takes five minutes and will keep dirt out of your engine and improve fuel economy. Plus, it can save you $60 in labor costs. All you will need is an air filter, which you can pick up at any parts store, and a screwdriver. To find out how often to change your air filter, refer to your owners manual. If you live in an area with lots of dust, you will need to change your air filter more often.

Replace Bulbs and Fuses

While it may not cost much for a mechanic to change a bulb or fuse, many shops markup the price for the part. Plus, you have to drive to the garage and wait around. Instead, just pick up the bulbs and fuses from you local automotive parts store and look at refer to your owners manual.

Before you begin changing any bulb, review the instructions and take a look at the access point first. If it looks a little too tight, then take your car to the pros and let them change the headlight or taillight bulb for you. On the other hand, the fuse compartment in easy to reach. You may have to look at the electrical chart in your owner’s manual in order to find the right fuse.

Engine Oil and Filter Change

An oil change is one of the more advanced item on this list, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. Anyone with a little mechanical knowledge and the right tools can change their own oil. Plus, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars a year by doing it yourself. All you need is:

  • A Car jack
  • Oil pan for Catching the Old Oil
  • Socket Wrench
  • Oil-filter Wrench
  • Recycling Bottles for the Oil
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Plenty of Rags
  • Engine Oil
  • Oil Filter
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Convertible Top Care
While, convertible tops look great when a car is new, without proper care they won’t look nice for long. Material like fabric, clear plastic and vinyl are far more delicate and vulnerable to the elements than painted surfaces. Sunshine can be especially damaging. Here are some tips on to keep your convertible top looking like new.

You should thoroughly clean your convertible top at least twice a year, but more frequently if the car is parked outside. Make sure that you use a cleaning product that is specifically designed for convertible tops and, if possible, bio-degradable. Do not use detergents or powders that contain chlorine-based bleaching agents. These cleaners can remove essential oils in vinyl tops that are essential in protecting the vinyl against the sun’s UV rays.

Before you even wet the top, try to move the car out of the direct sunlight and make sure the top is cool. Once the top is wet, spray a light coating of top cleaner evenly across the top and gently work the cleaner using a soft sponge to remove dirt. Once the top is cleaned, rinse of the cleaner while brushing a using lots of water. You want to continue to until the water runs clear.

Now, you don’t need to use a top cleaner every time you wash your car. Usually you can keep it clean with water. But if it is dirty, just use a pH neutral car wash and make sure that you rinse it thoroughly.

When you are cleaning the window, you do not want to use ordinary glass cleaners if the window is plastic. They can cause damage to the plastic. You want to use cleaners and polishes that are specifically designed for plastic windows. They will remove minor scratches and dirt while helping to prevent the plastic from discoloring.

After the top has been cleaned, use a top protectant to preserve the color and texture of the top material. This will prevent fading and cracking, and help repel dirt, grease and oil. Should you get bird dropping on your top, remove them immediately. They are very acidic and can quickly damage tops.

Once the top is thoroughly cleaned, you want to let it dry before folding it down to prevent mold and mildew.

Here are a few extra tips to make your convertible top last:
  • If possible, park your convertible in a garage or carport. If not, then use a high quality, breathable car cover.
  • To prevent creasing and scratching plastic windows, place a soft towel or baby blanket over the plastic rear window before folding down the top.
  • Use a lint roller to remove dust and lint from the top and clean the plastic window without scratching.
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Lights, Wipers and Filters
There are many people out there that consider themselves DIYers (Do it Your Self). They would rather do things themselves than pay someone else to do it. Vehicle maintenance is one of those tasks that many of us try to do ourselves. While there are some things that should be left to the professionals, there are certain maintenance items that any DIYer can do.

Windshield Wiper Blades Replacement

Windshield wiper blades and wiper blade inserts are essential to visibility when it is raining. If the wiper blades or inserts don't function properly, they won't remove the water, they can cause streaking, and they can also damage your windshield. Replacing the windshield wiper blade or insert is a simple task to perform. Plus, wiper blades can be found at any automotive store for fairly inexpensive.

Filter Change

There are several filters located on a vehicle. Some, like the fuel filter, may need to be changed by a trained mechanic, but there are others, like the air filter and in-cabin filter, that you can change yourself. The air filter is easily accessible and can be found at most automotive stores. The in-cabin filter can be easily accessible, depending upon the manufacturer of the vehicle. Even if they are little harder to get to, a DIYer can still gain access it to change it. Now, the air filter and the in-cabin filter should be changed at regular intervals. To find out when the filters should be changed, refer to your owner's manual.

Light Replacements

There are several types of lights on a vehicle. The ones that we worry about the most are the headlights, taillights, and brake lights. When one of these goes out, not only could you get a ticket, it could also be dangerous. If a headlight goes out, then it could reduce your visibility. If a tail light goes out, then it could make you less visible to another vehicle. On most vehicles changing a light bulb is a very simple task, but on others it is not so easy. Newer vehicles come with HID lights and once those fail to work properly, then you will need to take it to a repair shop to have the lights replaced.

While these maintenance items may seem simple and within the reach of a DIYer,  they are very important in keeping your vehicle operating properly. Also, if the air filter and in-cabin filter are not changed when recommended, then is could affect the validity of your factory warranty or extended warranty, if applicable.
 
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