Keep Your Car -- and its Occupants -- Safe with Proper Tire Care


Remember that ad with the baby sitting in the vehicle tire?

Remember that ad with the baby sitting in the vehicle tire? The tire manufacturer was touting how safe its tires were, implying (with the baby in the tire), that a person's most precious cargo would be safe if his or her car used the manufacturer's tires.

That tire maker was oh-so-right: your safety depends on your car's tires. Ever want to experience a blow out doing 65 mph on the freeway? No? Then you need to be sure your tires are well maintained.

Below are some tire care tips. Follow these simple procedures and you can help your tires stay safe and last a long time:

Tire wear depends, of course, on how much driving you do. So if you drive 200 or more miles a week, you can expect to wear them down more quickly than someone who only drives 50 miles in a week. In addition, how you drive also has an effect on how safe your tires are and how long they will last. Stop and accelerate from a stop slowly -- squealing means tire tread is leaving your tires. Not a good thing.

Since tires are hollow they need to be inflated with air. They are covered in rubber etched with tread, and it's the tread that helps your tires "grab" the road. So you should make sure your tires are inflated properly. You also should check the tread's depth to ensure there's enough tread to keep your car from slipping from the road.

Buy a tire gauge at your auto parts store. Most vehicles need pressure between 30 and 36 PSI (pounds per square inch). Your tire gauge will tell you if the air pressure in your tires is low or above that number. (Check your car's owner manual to see what PSI your tires need.)

To check on your tire's tread wear, take a penny and stick it in one of the tread's grooves, with Lincoln's head facing in. If you can see the top of Abe's head -- and especially if you can see all of his head -- you probably need to get new tires.

In addition, it's wise to have all of your tires rotated and balanced about every 6,000 miles. Your regular mechanic or your auto dealer will be able to perform this service for you.

About the Author: Dan Bodrero is the owner of Seat Covers Unlimited, a manufacturer of custom fitted car seat covers in Mesa, AZ. Seat Covers Unlimited can create a seat cover for any make/model of vehicle in just about any color or fabric.