(BPT) - The weather's finally warming up, the roads are dry and your sports car is beckoning you to hit the road for a fun trip. The question is: Are your tires up to the task?
"Tires influence braking, steering, comfort, handling and even fuel efficiency," says Bob Abram, consumer tires product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for passenger cars, SUVs, buses, trucks and yes, race cars, too. "Whether you drive a sports car, minivan or high-end luxury vehicle, it's important you have the right tires because choosing the wrong ones can result in a disappointment with the handling, ride and treadwear."
When it comes to fast and fun vehicles, Abram said ultra-high-performance (UHP) tires might be the best bet, depending on driving styles and vehicle performance. Finding the best one could be daunting, so he has some quick tips to get you rolling.
1. Take extra time to research.
When conducting online research, make sure the reviews (and reviewers) are using the vehicle the way you do. If you need to drive in snow, but the reviews don't mention winter driving, then that tire might not work best for you. In short, don't look for the top-rated tires in regards to just "performance"; make sure to add in how and where you drive.
2. Look for a mileage warranty.
The best UHP all-season (A/S) tires now have a mileage warranty to give you peace of mind about a balance of performance and tread life. For example, the ADVAN Sport A/S has a 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranty for W- and Y-speed models.
3. Look for balanced performance.
Most drivers will be happier with a tire that handles well in all seasons, but also offers a smooth, comfortable ride and good treadwear. Usually the best UHP all-season tires do many things well, not just one or two. This is where your research will really pay off.
Abram says to check sites like www.tirerack.com, www.discounttire.com and tire company websites like www.yokohamatire.com for more help.
Once you decide on the right UHP tires for your vehicle, Abram says, maintaining them is essential to get their full benefits. "It always starts with checking your tire pressure regularly, which is at least once a month. It only takes 5 minutes and can really help, because a tire that is underinflated by only 8 psi can reduce fuel economy up to 2 percent. This will affect your drive and the vehicle's fuel efficiency, so keeping them properly inflated will give you a better ride and save you some money."
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) recommends checking the tires when they are cold - at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven. Abram says to always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water.
"The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer," Abram says. "The proper inflation levels can be found on a placard on the inside of the car door and/or in the owner's manual."
Abram offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:
* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, your tire's tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.
* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch (the lowest legal limit). It's best to replace them before they reach 2/32 depending on your drive (geographically and based on the type of streets).
* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.
For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101 or www.rma.org.
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