If driving safety is important to you, then you need to pay special attention to the tires on your car. Tire maintenance and safety are closely related; tires provide the traction that allows you to stop, turn or speed up quickly, helping you avoid accidents and stay firmly on the road.
When it comes to tire maintenance and safety, there are three basic things you need to pay attention to: pressure, balance and tread.
Your car is designed to run on tires that are inflated to a certain air pressure — no more, no less.
- Overinflated tires will produce a rougher ride, because the tires will be firmer and not provide as much give when you’re rolling over bumps. They will therefore not stick as well to the road.
- Underinflated tires are more dangerous. Besides lowering handling responsiveness, a low tire can become heated, because the rubber bends with every revolution of the tire. Hot tires are much more prone to blowouts.
To find the correct air pressure for your tires, check the owner’s manual for your car. Do not go by the pressure printed on the tire itself, because that is the maximum and is often higher than what your car needs.
Balance has to do with how the weight of the tire is balanced around the wheel’s center of rotation. If the balance is off, the tire will tend to bounce down the road, reducing ride comfort and traction.
Having good tread is essential to tire maintenance and safety, especially when it comes to providing traction in wet, snowy or muddy conditions.
You want tread that is at least 1/8-inch deep. Most states require that tires be replaced if they do not have at least 1/16 inch of tread.
Also, check regularly for uneven tread wear. This indicates a problem somewhere in the alignment, suspension or the tire itself.
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