Proper Maintenance and Tire Care | How To Take Extend the Life of Your Tires

1957 Desoto with Firestone Tires1957 Desoto with Firestone Tires

Whether you choose bias ply tires or radials, or make the always-tough decision of blackwall or whitewall, finding the right tires for your classic vehicle is a key element to enjoying your time behind the wheel. Once you find the right tires, it’s a matter of maintaining them to keep the good looks and great performance. Coker Tire is devoted to educating customers about the right tires and wheels for their application, and providing information about proper care and maitenance for their new tires. It’s an important step in the longevity of the tires, and proper maintenance keeps them looking and performing well for many years. 

Mounting & Balancing

The first concern is mounting and balancing the tires, whether it’s to an existing set of wheels or a set of wheels you bought from an aftermarket manufacturer. Inflating the tires is a straightforward process, but there are advantages to using nitrogen inflation, as opposed to regular air. The larger molecules in nitrogen lessen the chances of moisture buildup inside the tire, and it produces less heat buildup within the tire, which keeps pressure more consistent.

Balancing is a critical part of the process and most everyday tire shops use a high tech balancer. Many aftermarket companies suggest using a hub-centric attachment, which means the wheel is attached to the machine by the lug holes, instead of the standard mounting procedure using the center hole. When it comes to balancing, many original steel wheels could be out of round, or have a slight warp because of the years of use. This makes it tough to balance the tire and wheel assembly, so lots of folks buy new wheels. Coker Tire offers FREE mounting and balancing when customers purchase tires and wheels together.

From a car enthusiast's vantage point, this is the right play, because it greatly simplifies the process and allows you to reap the benefits of Nitrogen inflation, and skip mounting and balancing all together. You also skip the potential heartbreak that may come as a result of the local tire guy damaging your new tires or wheels. When you order a complete tire and wheel package from Coker Tire, you can trust our technicians to be careful when mounting and balancing your tires and wheels. This also provides another level of quality control, as the technician can spot a potential defect or blemish before the product leaves the warehouse. Once the tires and wheels arive, simply bolt them on and hit the road!

Proper Cleaning and Safe Tire Dressing for Whitewalls

Nothing looks better than a clean and bright whitewall tire, and knowing how to keep a whitewall looking good isn’t common knowledge, even among car enthusiasts. A simple mistake can kill the looks of a whitewall and the first one can happen before you ever mount the tires on your vehicle. Leaning or stacking whitewall tires against each other, or any other tires, can damage the whitewall by allowing the black rubber to smudge the white rubber. When this happens, it’s hard to remove the black rubber from the whitewall, but using appropriate cleaners and a little elbow grease will help.

When it comes time to clean a whitewall, never use chemical or bleach-based cleaners—natural cleaners, such as our Wide White whitewall cleaner or Big Classic tire dressing are better for the tire, as they feature a citrus base that will not harm rubber. Harsh chemicals such as bleach can have long-term affects on your tires, so stay away from them all together. If you’re having a tough time removing stains from the whitewall, S.O.S. or Brillo pads can be used as a last resort. Without a doubt, frequent cleaning is best for keeping whitewalls in optimal condition, and there are options for lighter cleaners, such as whitewall wipes, that can be used much more frequently. No matter your choice, we offer several proven cleaners that are safe and effective.

A quick rundown for cleaning any tire on a collector vehicle starts with a good presoak with water to loosen any debris or dust. From there, you can apply a cleaning agent (remember, nothing harsh), or simply use soap and water to clean the tire. You can use a wash mitten or tire brush to clean the tire, but do not use the same mitten on the exterior finish of the car. Sometimes, rocks or debris can be lodged in the fiber, and cause great damage to your exterior paint or wheels, so be careful. A final rinse to wash away the soap or cleaning agent will yield great results, and you can seal those results by using tire dressing. Again, you want to stay away from chemicals that may damage the tires, so all of the regular silicone-based dressings are not suggested.

Air Pressure | Check it Often!

Another reminder for car guys is to frequently check air pressure. It’s an important aspect that helps extend the life of your tire, regardless of how much you drive the car. Low pressure is generally the culprit for many tire-related problems, so check the designated pressure on the door jamb of your car, if it is so equipped. If not, check the maximum pressure of the tire, which is stated on the sidewall, and adjust accordingly. Most tires are safe from 30 to 35 psi--higher pressures cause a harsh ride, while lower pressures run the risk of premature wear or tire failure. Some hot rods and custom applications will require a bit of guesswork to get the combination right, so it’s normal for folks to experiment with different pressures to find the sweet spot.

Flat Spots and Tire Age

We say it often, but the worst thing you can do to preserve a collector vehicle is to let it sit. But sometimes, it's hard to make sense of driving an old car year-round, especially when the climate doesn't cooperate for a few months out of the year. We've always suggested that folks jack up their car to relieve some of the weight off of the tires, which keeps them from developing flat spots. You may also try parking the car on small squares of carpet, so that the concrete floor doesn't put so much stress on a single area of the tire. If you've never experienced flat spots, it's simply a flattened out spot in an otherwise round tire. This causes a vibration that is sometimes severe enough to justify buying new tires. Bias ply tires and radial tires are susceptible to flat spotting, but radials sometimes have a hard time recovering due to the rigidity of the steel belt that rides beneath the tread surface.

We offer a cool item called "FlatStoppers" and they're manufactured by Race Ramps. You simply drive your car or truck onto these small ramps, and the shape of the ramps allows the weight to be evenly distributed to prevent flat spots. We offer FlatStoppers in two different sizes and these are the perfect addition to any car guy's garage.

When it comes to tire age, we suggest replacing tires after 8 to 10 years. Even if a tire does not have any visible damage or deterioration, there is a risk of tire failure if you're driving on old tires. Tires that are properly cared for will actually deteriorate from the inside out, giving you little to no warning of failure. It's easy to check the date codes on your tires--simply look for the DOT code. You'll see a series of letters and numbers. The four-digits at the end of the DOT number is the tire's date code. An example of 1320 is a tire that was built in the 13th week of 2020.

Coker Tire Company Extended Tire ProtectionCoker Tire Company Extended Tire Protection

Worry Less, Drive More. Protect Your Investment With ETP.

Potholes, curbs, and road debris are everywhere and inevitably one of those unforeseen road hazards can leave you with a tire in need of repair or replacement. Our Extended Tire Protection plan is a 5 year replacement program for tires that become unserviceable or damaged from a cut, snag, bruise, impact, sidewall damage, or puncture caused by a road hazard. We even do all of this delivery FREE to you.

Look for the ETP Add-On when adding tires to your Shopping Cart.