Have you ever experienced a blowout while driving? If not, some would count that as being lucky, but we believe that luck happens when opportunity meets preparation, as the old adage says.
Tires are one of the most important features on your vehicle, and often the most neglected… until there’s an evident problem. As the seasons change, make this your opportunity to inspect your tires and do some preventative maintenance to help you properly prepare your car – and tires – for the days and months ahead.
Here’s a quick checklist to help you cover your basic tire maintenance:
Tire Pressure – The recommended pressure per square inch (PSI) for your tires can be found in your Owner’s Manual, and for newer cars, it’s on a placard located on your driver-side door jam. It will list recommended PSI for each tire. These numbers represent readings when your tires are cold, so be sure to check your tire pressure prior to your morning commute for the most accurate reading.
Some owners mistake the numbers imprinted on the tire’s side wall as the recommended PSI, but that number refers to the maximum air pressure the tire can hold. For safety, optimum performance, and longevity, you do not want to max out your tire’s air pressure. Be sure you keep a tire gage in your car and check your tire’s air pressure at least once a month.
Tread Depth – With properly inflated tires, the tread should wear evenly on each tire. However, the design of your vehicle and the way you drive it will determine how each tire will wear. When inspecting your tires, be sure to check the tread depth of each tire.
To check your tread depth, all you need is a penny. The distance between the top of Lincoln’s head and the top edge of the penny is the minimum width you need for safe tread depth. Simply put the penny, head down, into the center tread of your tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then your tread is too thin and it’s time for some new tires.
Side Walls – Take a visual inspection of your tire’s sidewalls. Look for cracks, bulges, and spots that may be more worn than others, as well as any bends or cracks in your wheel rim. If you notice any of the above issues, it is critical to get the problem fixed or replace the tire immediately. Cracks in your tires and thin sidewalls are what cause most blowouts to occur.
Spare Tire – If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your spare tire, take time to do that now. The last thing you need when you have a flat tire, is to discover a flat or unsafe spare. If you do not have a spare, be sure you have a backup plan to handle flats.
Backup Plan – Many of the newer cars are being manufactured without a spare tire. To compensate for this, they are installing run-flat tires. These tires can typically go 50 miles after a small puncture, which means you need to get the car to a tire repair shop immediately. If you do not have a spare, or run-flat tires, investigate a product called Fix-a-Flat, which is an aerosol tire inflator you can spray into your tire’s air nozzle to plug up small punctures and provide enough air to lift your rim off the ground, which can get you safely to a repair shop to replace your tire.
Underinflated, overinflated, and deteriorating tires are all serious hazards which could lead to a blowout causing you to lose control of your vehicle while you are driving. Don’t leave your safety and the safety of others on the road up to something as unpredictable as Lady Luck. Now is the time to take the opportunity to ensure your tires are safe and properly prepared for the road ahead.