Recent research by the Rubber Manufacturers Association tells us that more people wash their cars each month than properly check their tire pressure. But a clean car is not going to do much to keep us safe on the roads. Adding a few minutes to your fall car care routine to check your tires will help keep you safer this season. Here are some simple tips:
Examine the tread on your tires once per month and before every long trip. Your tires should have at least one-sixteenth of an inch of tread depth, which is the legal limit in most states. Perform the “penny test” by inserting a penny in the tread at several points on the tire, with Lincoln’s head pointed down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tread is worn and the tire probably needs to be replaced.
Take a good look at your tires. Uneven tread wear could mean a number of different problems: under- or over inflation, tires out of balance or wheels out of alignment. According to automobile experts, your car’s tires should have the right amount of pressure because these serve as the medium between you, your car, and the open road. If you do have under-inflated or over-inflated tires, you would be experiencing much too many rattles and shakes as you drive your way through various types of roads. Also, tires that are not inflated properly give you a more bumpy ride. They also tend to wear down quickly compared to tires that are inflated just right.
To check the your tires’ pressure, make sure that you do it when your tires have already cooled down. Keep in mind that tires get more inflated when warm for the air inside expands. Then, you should first remove the cap from the valve on the tire that you are checking. Put in and press a tire gauge hard into the valve and take a look at the given reading. You would know if you have inserted the gauge properly if you hear the sound of escaping air.
Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles. If your tires show uneven wear, ask your automotive service professional to check for and correct any misalignment, imbalance or other mechanical problem involved before rotation.
Check your vehicle alignment periodically. Have an automotive professional check your alignment if you notice your vehicle is pulling to one side.
Inspect and measure your tire tread. You can do this yourself by placing a penny in the tread groove and if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it is time to replace your tires.
Fortunately, tire makers today are consistently improving tire performance and safety. Nevertheless, we, as car owners, have to cooperate. All things mechanical can only take so much wear and tear. Although excellent quality standards are built into tires today, they do have their useful life. It’s up to us to provide ongoing maintenance in the form of correct tire pressure, regular rotation, proper alignment and balancing. Even though we may be scrupulous about tire maintenance, there will come a time when we simply have to replace them.