The Rubber Manufacturers Association sponsors Tire Safety Week every year in June and it’s intended to remind drivers about the importance of maintaining and replacing tires.
If you think that tires are no big deal, remember that all of the weight and speed of the vehicle, along with your family inside, are riding on those four little patches of rubber.
You can find a lot of the information you need to know about your tires from either your owner's manual or from a label that's usually on the driver’s door jamb. It will tell you the recommended pressure for your tires along with the tire size and load range.
Keeping the tires inflated at the proper level can save money by improving gas mileage and making the tires last longer. It's simple to do and should be done at least once a month. Remember to check the tire pressure before you drive when the tires are still cooled down. Rotating tires extends their life as well because it makes them wear more evenly over time.
Tires can develop leaks and that can be caused by getting a hole from a nail or something off the street. If the hole is small and it's in the tread area it can usually be repaired and reused. But if the hole is near the sidewall or it's just too big, the tire is going to have to be replaced.
You can visually check some things on your tires even if you are not mechanically inclined. Check the tires for cuts or bulges in the sidewalls, which can be an indication that the tire has impacted something and may need to be replaced.
You can also tell if your tire tread is worn out by putting a quarter down in the tread with George Washington’s head upside down. If you can see the top of George’s head, the tires are getting real close to needing to be replaced.
Uneven tread wear indicates that the vehicle has a mechanical problem such as wheels out of balance or alignment or bad shocks and struts. Severe cracks in the tread or steel belts showing through are also signs that the tires need to be replaced.
If you need to replace tires there are a lot of choices out there. The same sized tire will vary in price, depending on which brand you choose. There are differences in what the tires are made out of, tread design, traction and speed ratings and that makes one more expensive than the other. Tell your mechanic what you are looking for in your new tires, whether it is better traction on slick streets, quietness or higher performance. Then you can get a set of tires that you will be happy with for years to come.
For a lot of great information about maintaining and buying tires, check out the Rubber Manufacturers Association Web site at www.rma.org.