By ROB W. ANDERSON
The importance of regular tire maintenance is often overlooked by drivers until a blowout forces the vehicle to the side of the road.
Once problems with tread, tire alignment or other tire-related issues are noticed, experts strongly recommend the vehicle owner have the issue addressed by a professional.
June is National Tire Safety Month, and tire dealers, auto dealers and automotive repair shops make it a goal to educate the driving public on the importance of properly-maintained tires.
Some common details that lead to problems include tires that are over-inflated or under-inflated or have not been rotated on a regular basis, said Danny’s Muffler & Tire Service Writer Brandon Womack. A change in how the car handles should alert the driver to these issues, he said.
“You’re going to feel the car pulling to one direction,” Womack said. “It’s going to create excessive tire wear and cause a lot of damage to the tire.”
Proper tire care and safety is not rocket science, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, or RMA. The national tire manufacturer trade association recommends that people should establish a monthly habit of taking five minutes to check your vehicle’s tires, including the spare.
Check tire pressure, ensure proper alignment, rotate tires every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and inspect and measure tire tread, as advanced and unusual wear reduces the tire’s ability to grip the road in adverse conditions.
Tire maintenance is important to provide dependable tire traction, but the ability to stop quickly and safely is also a valuable benefit of properly maintained tires, said Stuteville Ford Service Manager Randy Bratshear.
“As the tread wears, the stopping power is greatly diminished, especially on a wet road, because you’ve got a layer of water that’s going to interfere. Without a deep tread, there’s no place for the water to go,” Bratshear said. “[Water] gets sandwiched between the tire and the road, and that’s where the term hydroplaning comes about. That’s when the car lifts and commonly loses control.”
Proper tire size and air pressure is specified by the vehicle manufacturer, and these details can be located on the edge of the car’s door, a door post or frame, glove box door, fuel door or in the owner’s manual. Tire pressure is going to be relative to the type of vehicle and its use, said Speedy’s Service Stop Tire Tech Daniel Stafford.
“Usually, tire pressure on a lot of cars will be 32 to 35 pounds [per square inch], and once you get up to like a 10-ply [tire load range] like a lot of farmers around here have on their dualies, it would be 65 to 80 pounds,” he said. “Sixty-five pounds if you’re not hauling a load, and 80 if you are.”
Maintaining tires helps prevent accidents and breakdowns, and another area proper tire size and air pressure can be found is on the sidewall of the tire itself. It will show the name of the tire’s maker, its size, required air pressure, whether it is tubeless or tube type, and a Department of Transportation serial number that includes the date when the tire was made.
Today’s tires are made specifically for specific vehicle types, and using a tire not designed for the intended car make and model can have adverse effects, said Bratshear.
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