This past week was National Tire Safety Week and I'll bet most people were totally unaware. I'll also bet that most people pay no attention to their tires, which is unfortunate as they are one of the most important safety devices on a car. Most drivers only notice when their tires are obviously flat, but there is much more to tire safety. Basic driver's ed courses at best only touch on tire safety so additional tire education is a good thing.
Believe it or not, tires are quite possibly the most sophisticated devices on a car. Tire technology has been evolving for over 100 years and the safety tires bring to the road continue to increase with every year. Here are some easy to remember tire safety tips:
- Check tread depth for the legal minimum of 2/32". Place a penny into the tire tread groove and Lincoln's head should be partially covered by the tread as in the picture above. Not maintaining minimum tread depth can be a serious safety hazard and you can wind up in a very dangerous situation on the road when you least expect it.
- Proper tire inflation per the tire manufacturer's specifications should be maintained at all times. Pick up a tire gauge at any car parts store and regularly check the pressure of all four tires. The correct pressure range is listed on the side of the tire and additional pressure should be added if the pressure falls below the minimum listed for your tires.
- Tire repairs should always be done by a qualified tire shop. Many tire shops will make minor tire repairs for no charge! This is a great service and be sure to remember them when its time to get new tires.
- Tire types vary greatly and include both all-weather and winter tires. All-weather tires are good for driving in areas with changing weather conditions including rain and light snow. If you live in an area with heavy snow, installing a set of winter tires for snow season is a smart and safe move.
- Tire longevity varies greatly between tire brands and models. If you plan on keeping your car for a number of years, paying a little extra for a longer tire life is well worth the up-front expense.
- Road noise varies greatly as well with various tire brands and models.
The bottom line is that your tires are important for the safety of your car and can increase your driving comfort as well. Check your tires often and do a little research when its time to buy that new set of tires.