The Importance of Tire Safety
It ensures your safety
Your tires are the only point of contact that your vehicle has with the road – they need to be in good working condition at all times to ensure your safety.
To avoid any problems, follow these important care tips:
- Inspect your tire:
You may not always notice if one of your tires has been damaged. Inspect your tires regularly for wear and any damage to avoid any sudden problems. Also, have a professional inspect your tires every year.
- Check the air pressure:
Driving with incorrect tire pressures can affect a vehicle’s handling and braking, particularly in wet conditions, and can seriously compromise your safety. Driving on severely under-inflated tires can cause heat build-up and eventually a premature failure. Check your tire pressure monthly and before every long trip.
- Respect the load capacity:
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.
- Driving at high speed* can damage your tire:
At greater speeds, tires have greater a chance of being damaged by road hazards or heat build-up. 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.
How do I Check My Tires?
Checking tires is not very difficult, and most auto mechanics check tires for free when you take your car in for maintenance.
First, determine the optimal air pressure for your tires. Some people fill their tires to the number that is printed on the side of the tire, but this is incorrect. The number printed on the side of the tire is actually the maximum amount of air the tire can safely hold according to the manufacturer. You should not fill your tire past this number. The actual amount of air that you should pump into your tires can be found in a few different places, look for the proper amount in:
- Your car’s owner manual might tell you what your tire’s air pressure should be or where to look to find it.
- Inside of the glove box might be a sticker that tells you proper air pressure for your tires.
- The space where the driver side door and door-colum meet, near the latching mechanism, might be a sticker that tells you the proper air pressure for your tires.
- If all else fails, you should be able to find the proper air pressure for your tires by searching for it online.
Second, check the pressure in your tires. You’re going to need a pressure gauge for this step. When you check tire pressure, make sure that you have not driven the car for a few hours in order to get an accurate reading. If you need to travel somewhere to check your air, then make sure you will not have to drive more than a mile to get there. Once you have a gauge and are ready to check the tire pressure, place the mouth of the gauge over the air valve of your tires and press firmly. A little air will leak from your tires at first, but if you fasten your gauge properly then the sound of leaking air should subside once the gauge is firmly attached.
Third, fill your tires. Plenty of convenience stores have air pumps located on the outside of the building, but you can also go to a tire store to have your tires filled. If you choose to fill your own tires, try to position your vehicle where you can pump all of your tires without moving your car again. Keeping your gauge ready, fill each tire to the recommended pressure that you found earlier. Fasten the mouth of the pump to your tire’s air valve the same way you did with your gauge. Fill your tire in short 10-15 second intervals and check the pressure with your gauge in between intervals. Your tire pressure should be within about five PSI of the recommended pressure by the time you are done. Afterwards, make sure that the caps to the air valves on your tires are screwed back on securely.
Fourth, check the tire tread. Don’t worry, checking tire tread is even easier than checking tire pressure. Take a penny and place Abe Lincoln’s head in between the grooves of the tire tread. If Lincoln’s head is buried to his neck, your tire’s tread is good. If Lincoln’s head is exposed, you need new tires.
What drivers don’t know
The real problem seems to be in the area of driver knowledge. Various studies have revealed that America’s drivers really don’t seem to know all that much about how to properly care for their tires. Just consider the alarming fact that surveys indicate that 85% of American drivers claim to not even know how to inflate their tires, or admit that they are not sure what the proper pressure should be! Here are some other important things to consider:
- The total amount of time that is required to check your tires’ air pressure amounts to no more than ten seconds a day, or five minutes each month.
- That five minutes could help you save somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 cents on each gallon of fuel since proper inflation of your vehicle tires is one of the best ways to enhance the fuel efficiency of your car or truck.
How Often Should I Check My Tires?
You should check your tires at least once a month or more. Although, there are specific situations when checking your tires would be wise. Tire pressure can change by one PSI for every 10 degree change in outside temperature. So if your tire pressure was good in winter, it might be overinflated now that it’s summer. If you are planning to take a road trip, check your tires before you leave, and once you reach your destination, and check your spare tire before you leave. You do not want to get stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, especially if your spare is flat too.
Caring for your tires
Given that most Americans are unsure about how to maintain their tires, chances are that you might have a few questions yourself. The good news is that there are some fairly standard things to look for, and easy maintenance steps to take to ensure that your tires remain functional, safe, and legally eligible for use on the road.
- Align the Wheels. You should have your wheel alignment checked by professionals each year, or any time that you are worried that the alignment may be off. For example, if you find your car pulling to one side, there is a good chance that your wheels are misaligned.
- Tire Rotation. Your owner’s manual will offer guidance about the recommended schedule for rotations, and you should follow those instructions. Regular rotations can protect your tires from irregular wear and improve their longevity.
- Monitor wear. Keep an eye out for tread wear, since any damage to your treads can cause hydroplaning and other issues. One quick test involves using a penny to measure the wear. Simply take a penny and insert it into the tire tread. If the tires are worn to the point where you can see any part of President Lincoln’s head, you should start thinking about getting new tires.
- Inflate your tires. It is important to use a tire pressure gauge to ensure that your tires are properly inflated. Inflation is important for proper road grip, handling, and braking.