National Tire Safety Week is in April, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about tire safety year round! Your tires are just as important every other month of the year.
Today, I have some important tips to maintain your tires and maximize your vehicle’s safety:
- When you can and when you cannot rely on your car’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS): By the time your tire looks flat or your tire pressure warning light comes on, your tire pressure is typically lower than 25% of the manufacturer’s recommended psi. Driving on underinflated tires can be dangerous, which is why it’s so important to check your tire pressure monthly. Compare the tire’s psi with the manufacturer’s recommended psi, which can be found in your owner’s manual or on the sticker inside of your driver’s side door jam. If pressure is low, add air until it reaches the proper pressure.
- How much air you need to put into a tire to properly inflate it: Compare the measured psi to the psi found on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your vehicle or in owner’s manual. DO NOT compare to the psi on your tire’s sidewall. Remember that ambient temperature has an impact on your tire pressure, as does the sun. For every 10 degrees the thermometer goes up or down, your tires lose or gain 1 psi (pounds per square inch). Even if the temperature is consistent, tires have been known to lose up to 1 psi every month, so check all tires, including your spare, once a month (or before a long trip).
- How to check tread depth: Tread depth is absolutely critical to stopping. If your tread gets below 2/32 of an inch, your car’s ability to grip the road in adverse conditions is greatly reduced. Once every month, or before you set off on longer road trips, check your tires for wear and damage problems. One easy way to check for wear is by using the penny test. All you have to do is grab a penny and select a point on your tire where tread appears the lowest. Then place Lincoln’s head into one of the grooves. If any part of Abe Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with the legal amount of tread. If not, it’s time to get new tires.
- When to replace your tires: Tires don’t last forever. The two main reasons one may buy new tires are tire wear and tire damage. (For information on how to diagnose an issue with your tires, check with your local dealership.) Some drivers also require (or prefer) seasonal tires and need to change them to match the season.