Chances are, everyone in your family got new shoes to begin the school year. What about your car? It has taken you many places over the summer, keeping you safe, sound and comfortable throughout each trip. You rely on your vehicle’s “shoes” each day, usually without a thought, and they deliver. As the point of contact between the road and two tons of metal, the tires do a lot of work to keep you safe. Thankfully, you don’t have to replace them at the start of each school year, but anytime is a good time to check on their condition.
So, how do you know if you need new tires? The number of miles that your tires will travel varies widely, from 25,000 to 60,000. When you are shopping for new tires, you should know what the manufacturer recommends. Regardless, it’s important to watch for wear and tear on a regular basis. One widely-shared method of checking the tires is to place a penny in the tread. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, then you do not have enough tread. In addition, you want to watch for worn spots, bulges, and cracks. Tires produced in recent years have a tread wear indicator bar, which look like flat rubber bars perpendicular to the tread. As these begin to appear, it’s time to think about new tires. Also, increased vibration when driving is a sign to check out your tires’ condition.
There are a number of things you can do to increase the life of your tires. First, keep them properly inflated. We have often discussed the dangers of underinflated tires, which contribute to many accidents and lower your gas mileage. Having your tires underinflated or overinflated also causes them to wear out more quickly. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your car, check the pressure every week and adjust to the psi indicated in your owner’s manual. Rotating your tires approximately every 60,000 miles or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations will also preserve the life of your wheels. Those drivers who are aggressive, with sudden stops and rapid starts, will find that their tires wear out more quickly. So, take it easy on the road.
Healthy tires are vital to your safety and your vehicle’s performance. Keeping them in good condition will not only save you money, but may prevent a catastrophic accident. We encourage you to do your part to keep the roads, and your family, safe.