Don’t Forget Tires in Your Back-to-School Check List
Going through your back-to-school check list? Pencils and paper . . . check. Spiffy new outfits . . . check. How about your tires? Whether you’re hauling the kids to school in the SUV or helping your child pack her car for college, the engineers at GT Radial suggest you check the tires.
“First off, check your tires’ air pressure because under- or over-inflated tires do not perform as designed,” says William Estupinan, vice president of technical service for GITI Tire in the Americas (GITI Tire is the worldwide manufacturer of GT Radial tires). “Improperly inflated tires not only reduce your gas mileage and tire wear, but can also affect the vehicle’s handling and can even lead to tire failure.”
Make a visit to your local tire dealer, or if you do it yourself, Estupinan advises using a good quality pressure gauge and checking your tires “cold” – before you’ve driven or at least three hours after you’ve driven. Compare the measured psi (pounds per square inch) to the recommended psi level found on the sticker inside the driver’s door or in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Do not compare to the psi on your tire’s sidewall.
Estupinan recommends checking the air in your tires, including your spare, once a month because tires can, under normal circumstances, lose up to one psi per month.
The most important function performed by your tire’s tread is proper handling in wet conditions. As the tread wears down, its ability to evacuate water from underneath the tire diminishes, thus increasing the risks of skidding or hydroplaning.
There’s no cause for alarm until the tread depth drops below 2/32 of an inch. The penny test is a tried and true method for evaluating tire wear. Take a penny and hold Abe’s body between your thumb and forefinger. Select a point on your tire where the tread appears the lowest and place Abe’s head into one of the grooves. If any part of Abe’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with an acceptable amount of tread – more than 2/32 of an inch. Otherwise, see your local tire dealer.
Also check your tires for any abnormalities, Estupinan says. For instance, if you see a bulge or bubble on the sidewall you could have a serious problem and need to see your tire dealer immediately. In addition, if your tread wear appears uneven, that’s usually a sign that your vehicle is out of alignment or is having some other type of issue.
“Going back to school should be an exciting time for the entire family,” Estupinan notes. “Please add your tires to your check list.”