“How can I make my tires last longer (this time)?” This is the question that many auto owners ask when their cars are up on the auto lift, and they find out that their tires are shot after only 30,000 or 40,000 miles. In the vast majority of cases, it’s not the fault of the tires, but the fault of the car’s owner (unless, of course, those were cheap tires that were only designed to last that long in the first place). Tires, like any other piece of automotive equipment, must be maintained properly to give their maximum design life. And, like any other equipment, they won’t last very long at all if they’re abused. Here are seven tips on what to do and what to avoid doing to your tires:

Keep them properly balanced. Unbalanced tires wear unevenly and don’t perform as well as properly balanced tires. Uneven wear shortens the life of your tires. There are other problems too, such as the effect the vibration from unbalanced tires has on your suspension—not to mention your nerves. The wheel balancer is quick, cheap and easy.

Keep them properly inflated. Overinflating or underinflating your tires can reduce their life by as much as 20%. Also, underinflated tires reduce your gas mileage.

Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles. Tires should stay on the same side of the car, but front and back should be swapped. This equalizes the wear on the tires and therefore extends their service life. Today’s modern tire changers enable your tire shop to do this in five minutes or less.

Don’t drive aggressively. The worst thing you can do in this regard is “peel away” from stop signs, street race, etc., but hard acceleration, taking curves fast and hard braking all take their toll, too. Such driving is also hard on other parts of your car, not to mention dangerous, at times.

Don’t leave your car parked for extended periods without moving it, now and then. Tires go out of their round shape, when a car sits on them for a long time.

Watch your parking. Hitting a wheel against a curb or other obstruction can damage your sidewalls, and, unlike tread damage which can be repaired, if a tire has sidewall damage, that’s all she wrote. You don’t even want to drive on a tire that has such damage, because a weakened sidewall could result in a very dangerous sudden tire failure: aka a “blowout.”

Maintain your suspension and steering. Worn tie rod ends, ball joints and CV joints accelerate tire wear and cause them to wear unevenly, greatly shortening their life. Make sure your wheels are properly aligned—front and rear. Misalignment rapidly wears tires, as well as causing an unsafe driving condition. Worn shocks also greatly increase tire wear, as well as decreasing your car’s drivability. It is a huge mistake to buy new tires while failing to repair a suspension problem—all that does is destroy the new tires in short order, wasting a substantial amount of money in the process.