Jeff Lacina
December 1, 2008
Photos By: Ron Blevins, V6john

6 - How Much Air Pressure Should I Put In My Tires?
Proper tire inflation pressures are determined by a number of factors, including the tire's size, construction methods, and materials. It is also based on the axle load that tire was designed to carry. Bottom line: Read the tire, as they all have minimum and maximum tire pressures printed onto them.

7 - Check Your Tire Pressures Often.
As mentioned above, your tires have a lot of work to do, and they can't do their jobs properly if they aren't being operated at correct pressures. Buy a quality tire pressure gauge and use it often! Properly inflated tires are essential to maximizing fuel mileage, as well as providing adequate load-carrying capacities, all while providing you with the handling characteristics that your suspension was designed to deliver. This goes for your performance vehicle, commuter, and tow rig as well.

8 - What Is Dry Rot?
Tires lead a tough life. Manufacturers try to build tires that will last a long time, but over time, exposure to the elements will eventually cause rubber to lose some of its elasticity and allow surface cracks to appear.

Dry rot, weather checking, or ozone cracking are all names used to describe surface cracks. Most of the time, these small cracks develop on the tire's sidewall or in the bottom of the tread grooves. Depending on their severity, they may just be a minor cosmetic issue if they don't go too deep into the rubber, or they may be a reason to replace the tire if they are too deep or have otherwise compromised the integrity of the tires.

9 - Do Tires Require A Break-In Period?
Yes, since tires are manufactured using various layers of rubber compounds, as well as steel and fabric belts, new tires require a break-in period to ensure that they ultimately deliver the expected ride and performance. During the manufacturing process, a release lubricant is applied to prevent them from sticking in their molds. Some of this lubricant remains on the surface of your new tires, thereby reducing traction until it is worn off. Most manufacturers recommend 500 miles of easy acceleration, cornering, and braking to allow the lubricant to wear off.

If we're talking about all-out competition or racing tires, this is a completely different subject, as most of these tires are designed and manufactured to be maximized right away without any of the break-in time required on street/performance tires.

10 - Set Your Tire Pressure First Thing In The Morning According To The Manufacturer's Cold Tire Pressure Recommendations.
It's best to do this before rising air temperatures, sunlight, or even driving the tires a short distance, temporarily warms the tires.

The folks at Tire Rack have a wealth of information on properly maintaining tire pressures and explaining how some everyday variables can be taken into consideration when checking and adjusting inflation pressures. It basically comes down to "cold" inflation pressures versus "hot" pressures.

Indoor-to-outdoor temperature differences. Significant differences between the conditions tire pressures are set (the warmth of an attached garage, heated garage, or service shop) and in which the vehicle will be driven (winter's subfreezing temperatures) requires inflating tires 1 psi higher than recommended on the placard for every 10 F difference in temperature between interior and exterior temperatures.

Afternoon ambient temperature increase. Tire Rack recomends setting your tire pressures 2 psi above the vehicle manufacturer's cold inflation recommendations if the vehicle has been parked in the shade for a few hours or if you are having new tires installed.

Tire heat generated while being driven at speeds less than 45 mph. Set 4 psi above vehicle manufacturer's cold inflation recommendations.

Heat generated while being driven hard-speeds greater than 45 mph. Tire Rack recommends setting 6 psi above vehicle manufacturer's cold inflation recommendations.