TIRES are the only thing between you and the road, so it’s imperative motorists stay on top of tire maintenance. Proper tire maintenance is important all year.
Improper tire care contributes to 195 fatalities and 6,300 injuries each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency also estimates that about 11,000 tire-related crashes occur annually. Simply checking your tire pressure can help you and your passengers stay safe during your next journey.
To get the most from your tires, here are five maintenance tips from the world’s largest independent tire and wheel retailer-Discount Tire:
1. Get pressure right—Low tire pressure can decrease fuel economy. Tires may lose up to one pound PSI (per square inch) of air pressure per month. The specific inflation pressure number may be found on the vehicle placard located inside the driver’s door. Don’t forget those trailer tires. Checking the tire pressure for boat, travel and utility trailers is as important as your car or truck.
2. Don’t overload—Overloading your vehicle or trailer decreases fuel economy due to increased cargo weight. Handling, control and braking are also negatively impacted.
3. Rotate before you go—Regular rotation helps achieve uniform tire wear and improves road performance. Tires rotated every 5,000 miles have longer life and will help maximize your tire investment.
4. Straighten Up—Proper wheel alignment provides safe, predictable vehicle control and helps tires wear evenly and last longer. If your tires squeal when you turn or if you notice your steering wheel veers to one side while driving straight, it’s time to get your wheels re-aligned.
5. Bald isn’t beautiful—Lack of tread affects the tire’s ability to grip the road, especially in wet conditions. Make sure tires don’t have uneven wear, which indicates something is wrong with the tire. High or low spots or unusually smooth areas may decrease traction and increase the risk of road accidents.
“Maintaining tire pressure is one of the most critical things motorists can do to improve road safety while getting the most from their tires,” said Mark Marrufo of Discount Tire. “Improperly inflated tires lead to decreased steering and braking control as well as excessive tire wear and fuel consumption. Taking five minutes each month to inspect your tires will go a long way in keeping you and your passengers safe.”
A five-minute fix
Checking tire pressure and tread is easy and can pay dividends when it comes to fuel economy and handling. Don’t go by appearances. Use a tire gauge to check the pressure since a tire can be 50 percent underinflated but still not appear flat.
Make it a habit to check tire pressure every month and always before a long journey. Use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure and don’t forget to check the spare and trailer tires.
“Most people forget to check the pressure in the spare tire and come to find that when they need it, the spare is flat,” said Marrufo. “This simple check could keep you from a costly tow if you get stuck with a flat.”
Road trippers should also check tire tread depth by using the “penny test.” Insert a penny upside down into the tread. If you see Abe Lincoln’s entire head, it’s time to replace the tire.
To learn more about tire safety, visit www.discounttire.com. North American Precis Syndicate