Being outdoor enthusiasts, whether we’re fishing, hunting, trapping, kayaking, hiking, dirt biking, camping, horseback riding, boating or anything else, we need a reliable rig to transport our equipment…and ourselves. We know this. Also, everybody knows the importance of maintaining your vehicle to avoid preventable mishaps, but sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of going somewhere to do your fun outdoor activities and overlook one of the most important things to check before you go. Your vehicle’s tires. Make sure you check your tires for the following before you venture anywhere too far. Oh, and make sure you always have water stashed in your vehicle somewhere in case of an emergency situation occurs..
Bulges, gouges or cracks
When a tire deflates, it bulges at the sides. Unser says this is a sign of low tire pressure or a slow air leak. “If you see cracks in the sidewall, gouges or anything that looks odd, take it in to your dealer and have them look at it.”
The old-school penny test is one way to check your treads: Place a penny into the tread, with Lincoln’s head pointing down. If you can still see the top of his noggin, the tread is dangerously low. Most modern tires, however, have wear bars: bits of rubber woven into the pattern at a specific depth. “You can find the wear bars that go across the groove, and if the tread pattern is worn down to that wear bar, you need to replace your tire,” says Unser.
Tires deflate at a rate of about one pound per square inch (PSI) per month. “You’re not going to wear your tires down in a month,” Unser says, “but you should check that you have the right inflation pressure.”
Tire pressure drops in extreme cold. The challenge in summer, says Unser, is “excessive heat buildup in the tire.” If you’re heading out on a road trip with an underinflated tire, it will generate more heat and wear out faster.
Watch out for vibration or thumping when you’re driving. If it feels like it’s coming from under the seats, the rear tires may be out of balance. Vibration from the steering wheel could indicate suspension issues. Unser says anything less than a smooth ride means you should take your car in to the dealer.
Also, it is recommended that you change your tires in pairs or all four at a time when the time comes, as it is better for traction, performance and safety. Stay safe and have fun out there!
(Information above via geico.com; Photo via aa1car.com)