Tire Safety for Summer Road Trips
Summer is here, which means that families across the country are starting to make plans for their summer road trip adventures. If you'll be taking an extended road trip in the next few months, we've got some safety tips to make sure your tires are ready to roll.
The first thing to do as part of your road trip planning, according to Cooper Tire experts, is to check tread and tire pressure before you hit the road using this easy, 10-minute tire maintenance routine:
•As a general rule, the deeper the depth, the better. Tire tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Drivers can check tread depth by inserting the edge of a U.S. penny in between the tread, with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of Lincoln's head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, it is time to replace the tire.
•While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage, including cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and could cause further tire damage if left unnoticed.
•Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle's tires. It is a common misconception that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure – in reality, what's listed on the tire is actually the maximum pressure.
•Air pressure should be checked when the tires are completely cool, so check your tires in the morning before you drive more than a few miles, or before rising ambient temperatures or the sun's radiant heat affects it.
If any of these checks signal a need for tire maintenance, or if drivers are doubtful about the condition of tires, vehicles should be brought to a tire dealer for a professional inspection.
•Before packing the trunk and the roof, check out the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for loading the vehicle, which can be found on the vehicle information placard located on the vehicle door edge or in the vehicle owners’ manual. Be aware that passengers count towards the total recommended vehicle weight.
•Overloading the vehicle creates excessive heat inside tires, which increases tread wear and stress.
•Tires and wheels that are off-balance or misaligned can cause uneven wear and other problems, especially on long road trips in a fully packed vehicle. It’s a good idea before a long road trip, to have a mechanic inspect vehicle alignment to avoid these issues. Remember: Proper wheel alignment and balancing are important for safety and maximum mileage from your tires, not just when on an extended road trip.
You might not be expecting them, but be warned that sunny skies and warmer temperatures can also bring summer thunderstorms and slippery roads. Use caution any time roads are wet, as both deep and shallow layers of water can cause hydroplaning. Cooper Tire suggests these safe-driving tips to help avoid hydroplaning on wet roads:
•Inspect tire tread regularly to avoid losing traction on wet roads due to worn tires.
•Have a mechanic check the alignment and balance of your tires, to make sure your vehicle is properly equipped should a skid occur.
•Ensure tires are properly inflated to help increase control on wet roads. Remember: Proper air pressure can improve gas mileage by more than 3% and save up to 11 cents per gallon.
•Drive at a slower, safe speed, as wet traction is considerably reduced at higher speeds.
•Stay out of wheel ruts created by cars ahead, as rainwater collects in them and heightens the possibility of hydroplaning.
•Do not brake or turn when recovering from hydroplaning.
Remember, warmer weather can affect the rate at which the tire loses air: tires can lose more than two pounds of air pressure per month in the summer heat, so check tire pressure regularly as underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure.
Thanks to Cooper Tires for sharing these helpful tire safety tips! For more helpful advice on proper tire maintenance, visit www.coopertire.com, and connect with Cooper Tire on www.facebook.com/coopertire, or @CooperTire on Twitter and Instagram.