There was a famous slogan back in the late ’80s that went, “Because So Much Is Riding On Your Tires.” It featured images of cute babies on TV commercials, sitting comfortably and safely in Michelin tires. The campaign became an instant classic because there was no disputing that the safety of your family depended on your tires’ ability to perform properly.
These old commercials came to mind as I sat in my car during morning rush hour, driving my son to school. The roads were wet as we made our way through bumper to bumper, stop-and-go traffic. With the rainy season is still here to stay for the foreseeable future, I was glad that I had recently bought new tires for my car.
As always, everyone needs to remain extra careful and vigilant while driving on the roads. Out of the 50 states, Hawaii has the 9th worst traffic in America. Furthermore, the erosion and potholes on many of our roads add to the hazardous conditions drivers face each day. Regularly inspecting the overall condition of your tires is very important for the safety of your passengers and those around you.
3 Simple Things You Can Do To Inspect Your Tires
1) Invest in a tire gauge and regularly check your tire pressure to be sure it’s at the maximum recommended level.
2) Inspect the side-walls of your tires for any visible wear, cracks or damage.
3) Check the wear of your tires’ treads to make sure they still have enough on them to prevent hydroplaning.
To check the depth and wear of your treads, I remember a technique my father once taught me a long time ago. At the top of one of your wheels, you insert a penny with Lincoln’s head going into the tire grooves. If part of his head is not visible or hidden in the groove, your tread level is still good. Should the top of his head be visible or is sitting on the tread line, the tire is wearing down in that section. When there is space between the top of his head and the tread line, then that means that the section is dangerously worn down. You will want to check various sections of the tire with the penny to get a sense of the overall wear. This includes checking the middle section, as well as the inside and outside shoulders of each tire.
This penny technique reveals more than just the actual wear. It also reveals other issues you need to be aware of.
Interpreting The Wear
1) Worn in the middle section = suggests driving on over-inflated tires
2) Worn on the outside shoulders = suggests driving on under-inflated tires
3) Worn on one shoulder or the other = suggests issues with shocks, bushings or springs
Speaking of over-inflated and under-inflated tires, maintaining proper air pressure not only keeps you safe, but it also saves you a lot of money in the long-run. Properly inflated tires will maximize your car’s gas mileage and increase the lifespan of your tires. So don’t be caught off guard during your next safety inspection or regular maintenance. Make it a habit to often check the condition of your tires. Doing so will keep you and your family safe, prolong the life of your wheels, and allow you to be able to take advantage of upcoming tire sales.
The moral of the story is… take care of your tires, and your tires will take care of you.