I love solo road trips and the thought of breaking down on the highway causes some concern even though I’m a card-carrying AAA member and now have OnStar. Inspecting a car prior to a trip is a must and although I passed driver’s ed back in high school, I’m not very savvy when it comes to car maintenance.
In recognition of National Tire Safety Week, which kicked off June 6, my friends at Michelin are offering these useful tire safety tips which can be exercised throughout the year.
1. Check Tire Inflation
Proper inflation is essential for the performance and longevity of a tire. Under-inflated tires will make your tire wear unevenly and negatively impact performance. In addition, keeping your tire pressure at the recommended level can boost fuel efficiency by one mile per gallon. The Department of Transportation estimates that 5 million gallons of fuel per day are wasted due to low tire pressure.
- Be sure to properly check all four tires once a month and before a long trip – you can’t tell if a tire is underinflated just by looking at it. If it actually looks underinflated, it is way underinflated.
- Do not inflate tires to the maximum pressure molded onto the tire’s sidewall. The tire pressure level required for your car is usually on a sticker in the door jamb, on the glove compartment door or in the owner’s manual.
- Check the pressure when the tires are cold – first thing in the morning is best.
- Just about all gas stations have free tire pressure gauges and air-filling facilities or you can purchase your own tire gauge (a digital pressure gauge is recommended) [I can’t find any free air-filling facilities in my Florida community so I keep quarters handy.]
2. Rotate Tires Regularly
Regular rotation helps extend the life of your tires, saving time and money in the long run. For rotation, each tire and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position. Tires should be rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. If you have a full-size spare, it should be included in the rotation process. Rotations can be done at your local oil lube stations or mechanic shop. [Thank goodness I pre-purchased vehicle maintenance with my Saturn. I trust those GM folks, really.]
3. Keep Proper Vehicle Alignment
Alignment generally refers to the adjustment of a vehicle’s front and rear suspension parts. Proper alignment helps ensure that your vehicle handles correctly and will help increase the life and performance of your tires. Alignments can be done in conjunction with a tire rotation at your local oil lube stations or mechanic shop.
4. Check Tire Tread Depth
In most states, the minimum legal tread depth is 2/32 of an inch. If you place a penny with the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head facing down into your tires’ shallowest groove and you can see the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. [Does anyone still carry pennies? I mean, I usually see bunches of them tossed in parking lots and thought I was the only one who still believes in the power of the penny.]
5. Select the Right Tire
Choosing a balanced tire is an important part to providing a pleasant and safe driving experience. Ask for a tire that offers a combination of safety, fuel-efficiency and longevity such as the new Michelin Primacy MXM4 tire, which stops up to 19 feet shorter than the competition. Some tires offer one or the other so be sure to inquire about tires offering a balance of all three.[I got burned by Firestone a few years ago, whole other story…]
And where will the road lead you this summer? I’ll probably make a trip to Jacksonville to use a gift certificate and perhaps Tallahassee for a conference. I’ll really be putting the fuel efficiency of my hybrid to the test as well as my tire safety knowledge.