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How Safe Are Your Tires?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Vehicle safety should be top of mind for all drivers. In addition to keeping your car well tuned, you should be inspecting your tires regularly.

"Your tires are the most important part of your vehicle as they determine how your car handles, brakes and performs – especially when inclement weather becomes a variable," says Todd Walker, spokesperson for Hankook Tire America Corp.  In order to ensure that your vehicle is in prime driving condition, here are five tips from Hankook Tire for tire safety:

Check the tire pressure. Tire inflation has a direct impact on driver safety and performance, so it should be effectively maintained to ensure optimized driving, tire life and mileage. Tire pressure can decrease by one psi a month, and inflation can also fluctuate with the outside temperature. Check the tire pressure before every road trip or at least monthly. The optimum air pressure level for tires can be found on the inner side of the car door, inside the fuel cap or in the car manual. Before using an air pressure gauge to check the pressure levels, the vehicle should be inactive for at least three hours.

Over-inflated tires can result in excessive tread wear and can make the tires more vulnerable to road hazards such as potholes and road debris. Underinflated tires often result in decreased performance, lower fuel economy and shortened tire life.

Monitor tire tread. Tire treads determine how much traction a vehicle will have in variable road conditions. As a car drives, tread length is gradually worn down by road friction and eventually requires replacement, which underscores the need for consistent monitoring. Ideal traction starts with healthy tread wear, as the deeper the groove (or tread), the better the tire grips the road. To determine if a tire's tread is too worn, simply take a penny and insert it heads-down into the tread of the tire. If Lincoln's head is visible, it's time for a new tire.

Watch for wear and tear. While checking the tread, be sure to also inspect for bumps, bruises or other visible damage to the tires that could impact driving performance and tire pressure levels. A bulge or bubble on a tire's sidewall is not easy to spot, but can indicate an air leak or tire defect, which can have a significant impact on performance and safety. If there is a defect, replace the tire with a size that matches the driver's vehicle, driving style and geographic location.

Schedule rotation and alignment checks. Periodic tire rotation and alignment checks are lesser-known, but important habits for tire care and safety. Due to the different weight distributions over a car's front and rear axles, tires will wear differently over time. The practice of rotating tires ensures even tire wear and alignment, and maximizes tire life span. Hankook recommends rotating tires every six months or 6,000-8,000 miles and ensuring that wheel alignment checks are part of annual inspections, or conducted every 12,000 miles. Proper wheel alignment helps prevent vibration, skidding and road noise, and regular rotation prevents abnormal tread wear, both of which can help maximize the life of the tires and the driver's investment.  

Check for air in the spare. Don't take having a spare tire for granted. A recent Hankook Gauge Index survey revealed that 29 percent of Americans never check their spare tire's air pressure, which can create a larger issue if the time comes to perform a roadside tire change. To locate the tire's recommended PSI, check the driver's side door jamb or owner's manual. Drivers who end up on the side of the road with a flat tire will be thankful they checked their spare before leaving the driveway.

Source: Hankook Tire America Corp.

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