(BPT) - Temps are higher, the days are longer and road trips are planned.
When it comes to getting our cars ready for the road, we habitually adjust our rear-view mirror and double-check fuel levels before putting the car in gear. We sometimes change our engine oil and refill the windshield fluid. Yet we often overlook one of the most important safety features on our vehicles — the tires.
With a little preparation and the right tire maintenance know-how, major issues on the road can be largely avoided. Follow these simple tips to ensure your rubber is ready to meet the road:
1. Choose the right tires for the season.
There are many different tire categories, from ultra-high performance (UHP) tires designed to ensure performance vehicles handle flawlessly at high speeds to highway tires built to provide a smooth, comfortable ride and predictable handling.
It’s important to work with a professional tire technician to decide which tires are best suited for your vehicle and style of driving.
“Today’s tires are available in thousands of fitments providing varying performance, comfort and safety features, making it absolutely necessary to discuss your wants and needs with a knowledgeable tire sales person to ensure you’re getting the desired results,” says Matti Morri, Nokian Tyres technical customer service manager.
For example, a driver looking for balanced performance on varying surfaces — from hot and dry to cool and wet — would be happy with something like the Nokian zLine A/S UHP, designed to perform safely and precisely in variable conditions.
2. Give your tires a once-over for correct air pressure.
One of the easiest ways to extend the life of your tires is to regularly check them for correct air pressure.
Low and uneven inflation will cause a number of problems for your vehicle, including poor handling and reduced comfort, increased
fuel consumption and an overall unsafe driving experience. Tire pressure should be checked once a month and always before longer trips. You should always check tire pressure before hitting the road because driving causes tires to heat up and air pressure to increase. Consult the vehicle’s manual for proper inflation pressures.
3. Check your tread depth.
Tires with inadequate tread are susceptible to poor handling, hydroplaning, reduced gas mileage and more. In fact, tires are considered legally worn out when they reach 2/32 of an inch.
“To ensure your tires will perform safely, it’s crucial to monitor for worn treads,” Morri says. “Nokian Tyres’ products are equipped with Nokian’s Driving Safety Indicator (DSI), which indicates what percentage of tread depth remains, as well as a water drop stamp that disappears when tread is reduced to the point where the risk of hydroplaning is increased.”
Pro tip: A penny and a match are both easy tools to check your tread depth. Stick a penny, facing you, upside down in the tread on multiple spots around the tire. If Lincoln’s head is completely visible, your tread is too worn and you should replace your tires.
Similarly, if you stick the head of a match in your tread and the tip is not completely hidden, your tread is too worn. These are both signs of ultimate worn tread, and you may want to consider new tires before reaching this point.
Before you hit the open road, remember that minor issues can become major roadblocks in the blink of an eye — or turn of the wheel. Take a little extra time to follow these simple tire tips and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is the wind messing up your hair.
(BPT) - With the sun out and shining for spring, drivers are getting themselves and their cars ready for more outdoor activity. Before setting off on that next adventure, drivers should check the health and maintenance of their vehicle, as April marks the start of National Car Care Month. In light of the awareness month, Hankook checked in with drivers across America to see how they maintain their vehicles, uncovering trends on general upkeep around tire replacement, vehicle mishaps and roadside emergencies.
Sounds and smells mean service
If you are driving a car that clunks or a ride that rattles, it's likely an indication of some much-needed service. According to the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index, over two-thirds (70 percent) of Americans will immediately schedule a trip to the repair shop after hearing irregular sounds from their vehicle and 59 percent of drivers will take their car in if they smell something funky. While your senses can certainly help indicate when it's time for a visit to the mechanic, it's important to consider the date since your last visit to the shop, which less than half (46 percent) of Americans do.
Remember to check the little things like air filters or that your air conditioning system works now as pollen starts to dust the roads and temperatures climb.
While you might be able to hear or smell the problems within your vehicle, how do you know when to change your tire? A majority of Americans (65 percent) trade in for a new set of tires when the tread looks worn down. However, only 8 percent adhere to the mileage rating of the tire to help make more accurate decisions on when it's time to replace their tires. Major tire manufacturers will list the tread life/mileage on their website, but you can also use the Tire Tread Indicator on the bottom of the tire's grooves to ensure the tread depth is sufficient for optimum safety and performance.
Trouble on the road
While drivers can make sure their cars are in tip-top shape, the condition of roads and highways can be another issue. Nine in 10 Americans believe the infrastructure or condition of roads and highways is a current issue for drivers. This sentiment might stem from the fact one-third of drivers have had their vehicle or tires damaged from a pothole, and more than a quarter of drivers have had a flat tire as a result of a pothole. Not only can potholes be a hazard, but Hankook found that over a quarter (26 percent) of drivers don't know how to change a tire, including nearly half (43 percent) of all women.
Spare me the details
In case you do find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire, it's important to regularly check the health of your spare tire. By design, spares are often just a temporary solution to get to a mechanic, as performance and safety are limited by their smaller contact patch and overall diameter compared to a standard tire. In addition, a spare is also not nearly as durable by comparison, making any road hazard more dangerous.
However, the Hankook Gauge found that 34 percent of Americans will drive straight to the mechanic with a spare tire, but almost one-quarter (22 percent) of Americans will drive over 50 miles on a spare. If you are a driver with worn-out tires or currently driving on a spare, there are deals available to help you save on tires, including Hankook's Great Catch Rebate program.
As the weather heats up, there is not a better time to check the health and safety of your vehicle to get you out on the open road.
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