Generally in life, it pays to invest in the things that keep between you and the ground. A great chair can mean the difference between a bad back or a productive workday. Good shoes can keep you on your feet longer and make your walks more pleasurable. A carefully chosen mattress can give you peaceful, comfortable slumber. The same goes for the wheels on your car.

As anyone who has ever ridden through a rocky mountain pass or barren countryside can attest, your vehicle’s tires are the only things that separates you from the harsh and dangerous roads. Keeping them well-aired and well-maintained is a top priority for any driver.

Fortunately, it can be very simple to maintain the look and feel of your wheels.

Inspect your tires regularly

“Simple things like checking your tires’ pressure to make sure that they are properly inflated can make a real difference in how long your tires last,” tire manufacturer Michelin wrote on its United States Web site.

“Under or overinflated tires don’t wear evenly and won’t last as long. For example, a tire that is consistently 20% underinflated can last 20% less. That means a tire that should normally last 60,000 miles would be worn out by 48,000 miles. Also, since the front and rear axles and right and left sides of your car wear down your tires differently, rotating your tires regularly between the different positions will ensure they wear evenly and last longer.”

Michelin North America is a $10.76-billion a year company that manufactures and sells tires for airplanes, automobiles, farm equipment, heavy duty trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles.

The company added that as drivers may not immediately notice any damage on a vehicle’s tires, regular inspection for any wear and tear can avoid any sudden problems on the road. Car owners should also have a professional inspect their tires every year.

Be aware of your load

In addition, check that you follow the recommended tire pressure for your car. Driving with incorrect tire pressures, especially carrying an unreasonable load, can affect a vehicle’s handling and braking, This is particularly dangerous in wet conditions, and can seriously compromise your safety.

“Driving on severely underinflated tires can cause heat buildup and eventually a premature failure. Check your tire pressure monthly and before every long trip,” Michelin wrote.

“Do not exceed the load capacity relative to the tire’s load index. Tires loaded beyond their maximum loads can build up excessive heat that may result in sudden tire destruction.”

Practice careful driving

Perhaps the most obvious, and the most important, tip is to avoid engaging in reckless driving.

“Wheels and gutters are notoriously bad at getting along. Indeed, some drivers are themselves notoriously persistent in introducing the two. The most obvious solution? Don’t hit them,” AMG Australia, a company that has been importing and distributing wheels all over the world, advised.

High-speed driving can also place an excessive amount of stress on a vehicle’s wheels, especially if the car is not designed for it. Michelin said that at greater speeds, tires have greater a chance of being damaged by road hazards or heat buildup.

“High speeds can also contribute to a rapid air loss or even a sudden tire explosion, which can cause the loss of control of the vehicle,” the company wrote.

Tighten your nuts

AMG Australia also suggests checking your tires’ nuts as they keep your tires attached to the vehicle. It is critical to driver and passenger safety that none of them are loose.

“It won’t take that long. Perhaps when you get your car serviced, ask the team to check this for you. It’s rare that they will work their way loose but when they do, you may get to see your beautiful wheel trundling off down the road whilst you fight for control of your vehicle,” AMG Australia wrote.

Use your spare tire as needed

Any damage whatsoever to a tire or wheel should be attended to immediately. All drivers should keep a spare tire for emergencies and should replace them whenever they are used. Michelin also recommends that all spare tires be checked by a professional.

Have them cleaned

Lastly, not only are wheels integral to your vehicle’s safety and performance on the road, they also enhance its look and presence. Keeping your tires clean of any dirt and grime can help your car convey an air of confidence while on the road. Not to mention that clean tires can improve the longevity and the overall ‘age’ of a car.

“The biggest challenge comes when heated dust particles from your brake pads settle on your wheels and get baked on (notice that your front wheels especially have that coat of black dust on them?). Leave it there for too long and a process known as “galvanic corrosion” will set in and destroy the wheels’ finish,” AMG Australia wrote.

“Five minutes work on the weekend will keep it at bay (or a coffee and read of the newspaper at the car wash café will suffice).” — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran