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General Tire Safety and Maintenance

Monday, November 19 2018 2:31 PM
By 360 Administrator
General Tire Safety and Maintenance

It’s all too easy to take your tires for granted. When you buy a new car, it seems like they’ll last forever. Remember though, when you’re driving, your tires bear the brunt of the abuse: potholes, construction, uneven pavement, weather, and debris, just to name a few.

Your tires are what keeps you safe and separated from the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 700 motor vehicle traffic fatalities were the result of tire-related crashes in 2017.

To stay safe on the road, it’s important to inspect your tires regularly and often. Here are some tips for general tire safety and maintenance.

Check Your Tire Pressure

Low tire pressure is one of the most obvious signs that there’s a problem with your tires. Having low tire pressure can drastically affect the way your car drives, reducing:

  • tire performance and handling
  • road hazard resistance
  • gas mileage
  • tire lifespan

A visual inspection isn’t enough. If you can see that your tire is low, that means it’s really low. It’s difficult, even for the experts, to tell if a tire is just a few PSIs below where it should be by sight.

 

My Car has a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Do I still need to manually check the pressure?

Yes. The TPMS is a great tool but is not intended to take the place of checking your tire pressure.

By law, the TPMS warning light isn’t required to come on until a tire is 25% below the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. That’s below the pressure recommended for safe driving. While the TPMS in your particular vehicle may trigger a warning earlier, you shouldn’t wait until a warning to pay attention to your tires. Also, dramatic temperature fluctuations or an electrical issue with your car might affect your TPMS.

By manually checking your tire pressure once a month, you can ensure you catch the problem before you start harming your tires.

 

Luckily, measuring the tire pressure is easy! 

You’ll need a tire pressure gauge—you can get a basic pencil-style gauge just about anywhere for a few dollars. If you don’t mind spending a bit more and want to make the process super easy, get a digital gauge.

To check your tire pressure, do the following:

  1. Find out the optimal pressure for your vehicle. When you open the driver’s side door, there should be a sticker on the door jamb that indicates the pressure your tires should have. If there’s no sticker, consult your owner’s manual or contact your dealer or manufacturer for more information.
  2. Locate and unscrew the tire valve stem cover.
  3. Place the opening of the tire pressure gauge on the valve stem opening.
  4. Push down hard enough on the gauge toward the valve to release air from the tire and register the tire pressure on the gauge.
  5. If necessary, use an air compressor to add air to the tires until they reach the manufacturer recommended PSI level. If you don’t have an air compressor, most gas stations have an air machine you can use for free or low cost. You can also stop by the shop where you get your regular maintenance done—they should be happy to top off the tires for you.

Inspect Your Tires

Roads are full of hazards that can ruin tires. Think of all the sharp objects you’ve seen while you’re walking outside: screws, nails, glass, metal wire, etc. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, any of these objects could get stuck in your tire.

After you’ve finished checking your tire pressure, inspect your tires to see if you can spot or feel any objects lodged in the tire. If you find an object embedded in the tread, an expert may be able to repair the tire. However, if you find an object in the sidewall, you’ll probably need to replace the tire.

Another surefire way of finding out if there’s something in your tires is listening to sounds when you’re driving. Roll down your windows. If you hear a regular clicking while your vehicle is moving, there could be something stuck in one of your tires.

You should also visually inspect the tread on the tires for signs of wear. When the tread is worn down to 4/32”, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. If you’re down to 2/32”, it’s desperately time to purchase new tires. While this measurement seems difficult to gauge, it’s easy to measure with the help of President Abraham Lincoln.

Using a penny, you can easily determine if it’s time to replace your tires. Flip the penny upside down so Lincoln’s head is pointing towards the center of the rim. Place the penny in between the treads of the tire. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, the tread is less than 2/32”—it’s time to buy new tires immediately. If just his forehead is covered, your tread is approximately down to 4/32”, and it’s time to start shopping for tires.

While conducting the penny test, it’s important to check for uneven wear as well. If your tires are wearing unevenly, it could indicate any of the following:

  • Your vehicle needs an alignment.
  • Your tires have been over or under inflated.
  • There’s an issue with your suspension.
  • Your tires weren’t balanced properly.
  • Your tires weren’t rotated regularly.


Question About Tire Safety and Performance?

Scholfield Honda in Wichita can help. Our service experts can answer any questions you have about your tires, help you troubleshoot and diagnose any tire problems your discover and help you shop for new tires. Give us a call today at 316-688-6450 (East) or 316-729-1300 (West).