RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – You always want to make sure your car is going to get you there when you head out on that weekend road trip or vacation.
And there’s nothing more frustrating than having tire trouble which strands you in some isolated place.
But, there are some simple ways you can make sure your tires are safe.
A good time to check those tires is when you are getting gas.
As the tank fills up, take a minute to walk around your car.
Give your tires a once-over, making sure there is no excessive wear, obvious under-inflation or cracks or bumps in the sidewalls.
Byran Barker, owner of Raleigh’s Glenwood Village Tire Pro’s offered some additional tips that you as a driver can use to make sure your tires are OK.
First off, make sure your tires are rotated on a regular basis like every 6 months.
Barker showed us an example of tires he had to replace on a car because they weren’t rotated.
The front tires developed dangerous worn out areas on the portion of tread that faces away from the automobile, while the back tires looked pristine.
“The ones on the rear look like they are almost brand new compared to the ones from the front,” he said. “Obviously, the front tires have some wear issues and that’s why we recommended replacements.”
Tires are critical to a vehicle’s handling and traction, and maintaining proper pressure is vitally important to vehicle safety.
Barker says every vehicle has a sticker on the door frame telling you what the proper tire pressure should be. You can then use a handheld pressure gauge to check just how much air you may need to add.
“There’s a threshold on the high or low side,” explains Barker. “You want to be in the range of what the manufacturer recommends.”
Although many newer vehicles come with tire pressure monitoring systems, experts say you shouldn’t rely on it for an everyday checks because by time the system senses low pressure, the tire has probably lost 25 percent of its inflation and is now dangerously under inflated.
“When a tire gets too worn down there is cord separation,” says Barker. “You can start to see the steel belt. It’s a dangerous situation.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says bad tires caused over 11,000 crashes last year, costing 200 lives.
A quarter is a good indicator of tire wear
Turn it upside down and insert it into the tread. If the rubber doesn’t come up to the bottom of George Washington’s head, the tire is getting too worn and you should replace it.
As the tire wears down even more, so-called wear or tread bars built into it will start to appear.
The wear bars run horizontally on the tread and become apparent when the tread wears away to the point where the horizontal bars are exposed.
“Every tire has tread bars at several different points. When that becomes flush it means it’s time for it to be replaced,” says Barker.
Under inflation not only causes poorer gas mileage but it can put dangerous strain on the tires, as can over inflation.
“When we’re driving in summer heat the roads are probably 105—110 degrees. As the heat rises, the tire will expand so you’ll get more air pressure driving in the summertime and less air pressure in the wintertime,” says Barker.
Also don’t forget to check your spare tire too. It does no good to try and use a spare if it too is flat.
Checking the tires can also help you if you are buying a used car. Barker says if the maintenance has been neglected on the tires of the used car you want to buy, chances are other maintenance on the vehicle was also neglected.
If you’d like to be more information on tire safety use this link to NHTSA’s Tirewise site.
Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.