Tires are the first point of contact between you and the road. Tires with good tread and proper inflation give you better handling and stopping ability to avoid accidents, all while maximizing your fuel mileage to save you money.
A proper tire check takes only minutes.
Check your tires once a month, while they are cold, before you get on the road. Driving heats your tires up and changes the air pressure inside of them. Check the cool tires with a tire gauge against the proper tire inflation usually located on the sticker on the inside of the driver’s door frame. A 3 psi drop in tire pressure across all four tires costs you 1% in mileage. Remember that soft tires cause more of the tire surface to hug the road, which causes the engine to work harder and costs you fuel mileage.
Low tire pressure not only costs you money but is a safety hazard. If the soft tire is squished against the road, the pressure concentrates at the edges of the tire and the road interface. A properly inflated tire will have the pressure evenly distributed across the breadth of the tire. The under-inflated tire walls of a soft tire will flex and build up heat, taking away performance and dramatically increasing the chance of a blow out. Though hopefully not while you are driving on the highway.
Hence the importance of checking your tire pressure.
Checking tire tread is something you should do monthly as well. Stick a penny down in the tread and see if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head. If so, your thread is too worn and you should plan on replacing your tires. Proper tread helps you stop sooner and maneuver better, both of which keep you and your family safe.
Have a great time this summer. Go see places you’ve never been and give your kids experiences they’ve never had. Just take these and other simple steps to make sure your fun isn’t spoiled by unexpected happenings with your car or truck.
This post was published on June 21, 2011 and was updated on January 31, 2014.