A recent study by AAA found that 80 percent of the families they surveyed have plans to hit the road this vacation season. So chances are you’ll be taking your vehicle on the road for a vacation this summer.
Your tires are key parts of your vehicle that must be checked and serviced before you travel. After all, tires are all that stands between you and the road. Follow these four tips to get your tires in top shape for travel.
- Check Your Tire-Wear Indicators
When you first buy new tires, the raised tread on each tire sticks out in neat little rows along the surface. In between the treads are recessed lines that you should not be able to feel with your fingers. These are your tire-wear indicators.
As a tire wears down from contact with the road, so does the tread on that tire. Eventually, the wear-indicator surface will be very close to the tread surface. That’s when you know the tires need to be replaced.
Some mechanics and tire pros recommend using a coin to judge the wear on tires. Use a quarter or penny inserted between the treads and held upright with the applicable president’s head upside down. If you see all of Washington’s or Lincoln’s head above your treads, or there’s uneven wear across the tire, it’s time to shop for new tires.
- Have an Alignment Performed
Whether you have new tires mounted on your vehicle, or you’re going on vacation with the tires you already have, get them balanced and aligned. Proper tire balancing and alignment ensure that your tires are all traveling in line with each other and your vehicle.
A misalignment may be only an annoyance on short trips to work or school. On long stretches of highway, misaligned tires may cause your car to vibrate, wobble, and wear much more quickly. Your braking and steering are compromised by the misalignment. The wobbling and shaking can cause sensors and other parts under the hood to vibrate loose, too.
Give yourself and your passengers a break, and have your tires lined up for the highway. When tires are balanced and aligned, they will last longer, and you’ll enjoy a far smoother ride.
- Pack a Tire Pressure Gauge
Summertime roads are very hot. The highway may be sizzling at 110 degrees or more under your tires. When the scant bit of water inside your tires gets hot, it expands and causes the tire to roll at a higher pressure. Since the hot roads cause so many fluctuations in tire pressure, it’s best not to rely on any automatic pressure sensors in the hotter months.
Invest in an old-fashioned tire pressure gauge for your trip. Check your tire pressure before your trip when the tires are cold to get an accurate reading. The pressure should match up to the recommended pressure printed on the inside of your driver’s side door. If the tire pressure doesn’t match the recommended pressure, either inflate the tire or release air to get to the right inflation number.
Check your tires frequently during your trip. This is especially important if you’re traveling in fluctuating temperature conditions. Bring along an emergency tire inflator if you’ll be traveling in remote areas, like the mountains, where daytime and nighttime temperatures vary significantly.
Some people under-inflate their tires during summer months to avoid blowouts due to high tire pressure. But under-inflated tires lower your gas mileage and are also at a higher risk of suffering a blowout. Consider using nitrogen in your tires instead. Nitrogen doesn’t expand due to heat and will keep your tires at the correct pressure.
- Be Prepared for a Blowout
Before heading to the shore or the theme park, check your spare tire, too. It should be completely inflated. Make sure you have a jack, lug nut wrench, and work gloves in an easy-to-reach location. Flares or emergency cones are helpful, too, since they will alert other drivers to your presence along the road after dark.
It’s a good idea before you leave home to go over how to change a spare on your vehicle. If you have teenagers or capable adults traveling with you, have them practice changing a tire before your trip.
Some newer cars don’t have a spare but are outfitted with a can of tire sealant and an air pump. You’re out of luck if you have a complete tire blowout in this case. Consider buying a mounted spare if you have space in the trunk, or sign up for a roadside assistance plan through your insurance company or another provider.
The tire professionals at Evan’s Tire & Service Centers offer exceptional value when replacing all types of vehicle tires. Our ASE-certified techs will get your car road-ready with the latest and safest tires on the market. Call or stop by today, and you’ll travel with peace of mind wherever the road leads you this summer.