If your Kia is one of the new models, you can be sure that the vehicle itself will let you know if there is something wrong with one of your tires. Like most new cars, recent model-year Kia vehicles will let you know if you’re low on air in one of your tires or if you have a flat tire. Tires don’t, however, refill themselves, check their own tread, or even know when they need to be rotated—not yet anyway.
Because your tires are the only part of your vehicle that touch the road, they are one of most integral parts of the vehicle. They need to be well-maintained and properly filled in order to keep you and your passengers safe. Tires are one of the parts of your car that are designed to wear out. Depending on how frequently you drive and where you drive, your Kia’s tires may be in need of some attention. Here is everything you need to know about checking your tires.
How to Check Air Pressure and Refill Tires
You might be able to ignore that “low air pressure” warning on your dash for a few weeks without anything apparently negative happening to your vehicle. Under-filled tires can actually seriously affect your gas mileage and this makes the tires themselves more susceptible to damage. This is something my mother learned in her Kia Optima when she grazed a curb—her under-filled front tire was able to be folded and pinched by the movement, which made a small rip in the tire, out of which the air in the tire started to leak.
Keeping proper air pressure in your tires will make your vehicle much safer to drive, as well as optimizing its gas mileage and improving its handling. If you start to notice that your Kia is wobbling or is less responsive than usual, it may be because your tires are low on air. Here are the steps to checking and refilling your tires if they are low on air:
1. Get a tire pressure gauge. Most cars do not come with a tire pressure gauge, but one can be purchased from just about any gas station or grocery store. There are a wide variety of different pressure gauges, ranging from the vintage, round pressure gauges my father gave each of his children as a “car-warming present,” to very modern, sophisticated machines that will read the tire’s air pressure out to you.
2. Know what PSI (pounds per square inch) your tires should be at. Some Kia vehicles have the correct tire pressures listed on a sticker in the driver’s door jamb. All cars will have the PSI listed in the owner’s manual. This is the number that you want your gauge to read when you test the tires. If the number is higher, the tires are too inflated and you need to release some pressure. If they are not inflated enough, they will need more air.
3. Use your gauge to test your tires. If you have never tested a tire before, it may take a few tries to get the hang of the gauge and the little port on each tire. All you have to do is press the gauge against the tire and it will tell you the PSI inside that tire. If the readout shows something impossible, like 3 PSI or 100 PSI, clear the gauge and try again. If your tires are overinflated, you can usually use the gauge to release air, too.
4. If your tires need air, go to a pressurized air station. Most gas stations will have a self-serve pressurized air station. If you do not feel comfortable using the station, you can always bring your Kia into our service department. We will gladly fill your tires to the proper PSI.
5. Regularly check your tires’ levels. It is natural for your tires to become depressurized over time. It is not normal, however, for one tire to lose pressure faster than the rest of the tires. If you are noticing that one or more tires is almost always in need of air pressure, bring your Kia into our service department so we can make sure your wheels and tires are properly mounted.
6. Make sure to replace the dust caps after you have checked and filled your tires. And don’t forget to check your spare tire!
How Often Do I Need My Tires Rotated?
When you go in for an oil change, you may occasionally be asked if you want your tires rotated. How do you know if you need your tires rotated? Like most automotive service, tire rotation depends largely on how often you drive and how far you drive. If you regularly drive more than 10,000 a year, you should probably have your tires rotated every year, when you get your oil changed.
Why bother with this at all? This allows your tires to be worn evenly, so no two tires take the brunt of the wear, prolonging the life of all four tires. If it’s time to have your tires rotated, feel free to bring your Kia into our service department—this is one of those maintenances that should be done by a professional.
When Do I Need New Tires?
Sometimes, it may be obvious that your Kia needs a new tire. If you’ve discovered a nail embedded in the tire, it’s definitely time for a new one. However, it is probably far more likely that your tread has worn down and the tires themselves are no longer great at gripping the road. Most tires last 30,000 to 50,000 miles. If you’re not sure if you need new tires, bring your Kia in and we’ll let you know if your tires are too bald to get you around safely.