Tire Safety Tips for your Summer Road Trip
By Jack Payton
Jack Payton is a car nut in the purest form. He loves to write about everything gear related, and rebuilt his first engine at 15. He works as the online publisher for the online tire retailer http://www.tires-easy.com/. In his spare time he enjoys cruising, attending car shows, and collecting vinyl.
My favorite part of summer is traveling. Now, I don’t mean anything fancy there is no call for lavish trips to Europe or the Bahamas; often I find the best trips are found a little closer to home. Road tripping is the unsung epic of the new American west, and from the week long trips as a child in the old family van to my day drives into the mountains on the weekends, I have many fond memories of road hopping from point A to point Basking in the sun on some beach somewhere. But before you hit the road this summer, don’t forget the importance of safety. I’m going to give you the same advice your grandmother would give you, only I don’t have to put my teeth in first to deliver: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure. When it comes to tire safety, here are some tips to keep you and yours square on the road.
Check tire pressure: This should be performed at least once a month, but absolutely before you leave on any distance drive. It is typical for tires to deflate 1 psi per month, as well as 1 psi per 8-degree loss in ambient temperature. According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on tire-related crashes, the leading cause of tire failure is under inflation. Inadequate inflation will also lead to a drop in gas mileage and an increase in tire wear, costing you more money in the long run.
Rotate your tires: “Don’t they rotate every time I drive?” Ignore my daughter’s sarcasm there. Tire rotation is a very important practice to be performed at your local auto and tire tech. Rotation is essential to ensure even tread wear. Excessive loss of tread can cause the vehicle to lose its balance of grip on the road, and can become a major problem waiting to happen.
Adjust the alignment regularly: Misalignment of the steering and suspension, can adversely affect the steering feel and stability of a vehicle, as well as cause rapid and uneven tire wear. If you feel the steering pulling in one direction or another when traveling straight ahead on a flat road with no crosswind, or if you notice uneven wear on the front tires, you should have the alignment checked and adjusted as soon as possible.
Replace tires in pairs or complete sets: Installing different tires on the right and left side of the vehicle can tendentiously affect its balance and handling. For this reason, it is imperative that tires are replaced in front or rear pairs, or in a complete set—never one at a time. Regardless if the vehicle is rear, front, or all wheel drive, the new pair of tires should always go on the back, as maximum rear traction will ensure stability of the entire vehicle. By no means should you ever put tires of differing construction—such as radial or bias ply—on opposite ends or sides, because handling will be adversely affected.
Select the right tires for the right driving environment: Most drivers are comfortable with all-season tires; so that most new vehicles now come equipped with them. However, more specialized tires for performance, rain, snow, off-road and touring have made the idea of matching your environment much easier, and this certainly has its advantages. Just consider that excellent qualities are most likely achieved at the expense of others. Determine what your crucial needs are, and narrow your choices accordingly. Then, if possible, drive a similar vehicle equipped with the tires you are considering.
This summer, get the most out of your vacation and your tires. Avoid the short cuts that can cost you more in the long run, and remember to take a little extra time to play it safe. Memories of the good times will be your reward at the end of the road.
Thanks, Jack, for this very entertaining and informative article. pb