Now that winter has ended, it is time for Philadelphians to prepare their cars for spring and summer. A little maintenance can go a long way in preserving your vehicle’s performance, efficiency and safety.
Check the Depth of Tire Treads
For a vehicle to be as safe as possible, an adequate tire tread depth is essential. Tire treads are designed to grip the road, which is especially helpful during wet weather. While driving on a wet road, inadequate tread depth can cause your vehicle to skim over the road’s surface with very little traction (hydroplane). Hydroplaning can result in a crash.
One of the easiest ways to check the tread on a tire is to use the penny test:
- Take a penny and turn it upside down: the top of Lincoln’s head should be facing the ground.
- Now, take the upside down penny and place it between two of the ribs on the tire.
- If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tire tread, the tire still has adequate tread; however, if his entire head is visible, it is time for a new tire.
Some tires have indicator bars: Once these bars are even with the tire’s tread ribs, it needs to be replaced. Keep in mind that tires may wear unevenly, which means that the tread depth on each tire must be checked at numerous points.
Other Signs of Wear and Tear
The tire, tread and sidewall should all be inspected for irregular or uneven wear. If there is excessive wear on the edge, shoulder and/or center of the tire, additional maintenance may be required.
Once the tread test is complete, your tire’s pressure needs to be checked. The pressure a manufacturer recommends for a specific tire (if the tire is original to the car) can usually be found on a placard that is visible when the driver’s side door is open: Other places the tire pressure recommendations may be found include the glove compartment and in your owner’s manual. Although there is most likely a number visible on the tire itself, this number refers to the maximum amount of pressure that specific tire can hold: That pressure is not usually the recommended amount.
How to check your tire’s pressure:
- To obtain an accurate reading, a tire’s pressure needs to be checked when it is cold (not after being driven).
- Unscrew and remove the cap on the tire’s valve stem.
- Carefully insert the tire gauge into the valve stem.
- Read the tire gauge.
If the pressure is at the recommended amount, there is no need to add air; however, if the pressure is low, air needs to be added. Some of the air pressure machines available at local gas stations have a built-in tire gauge, which makes it much easier to check the tire’s pressure as you fill it. Remember to check the pressure on the spare tire as well.
What’s the bottom line?
Philadelphians who ensure take care of their car tires improve their gas mileage by 3 percent or more. More importantly, it makes their car safer.
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