Drive safely with proper tire maintenance this spring

Published on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 by Brandy Kiger

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When the rubber meets the road, drivers need to be confident that it’s going to be a sure connection, especially when spring 
showers fall and the temperatures begin to rise. “In our area, we don’t pay a lot of attention to our tires in the winter,” said Joe King of Border Tire. “We tend to get home from work and head straight into the house. Spring is a great time to do an evaluation and some maintenance on your car.”

Thin tire treads can create hazardous driving conditions in multiple ways. “In cold weather, a tire might be fine for six months or so, but as it warms up, the tire expands a lot,” King explained. “If there are any weak spots or cracks in your tires, that expansion is going to magnify the issue.”

King said it’s important to take a look at your tires at the beginning of each season to make sure they are in good shape. “A tire is pretty amazing technology if you think about it,” he said. “You have two tons of car or truck resting on four pieces of rubber, and the only part actually touching the road is 
about six inches of rubber at a time. It’s good to keep an eye on it.”

Worn out tires also pose a threat when water builds up on the roadway, according to the Car Care Council. Deeper treads can accommodate accumulated water, but thin tread does not. Thin tread causes the tire to hydroplane when you hit standing water because it loses contact with the pavement, which can be similar to driving on ice.

Not only are thin tires hazardous for driving, but they can be hard on your pockets as well. “If you have less tread on your tire,
 it’s going to affect your gas mileage as well,” King said. “The more traction you have, the better your car will grip the road. That helps with fuel economy which is something everyone is worried about.”

The simplest way to check tire tread depth is with a penny. Insert the penny into the grooves of the tread. If you are able to see all of Lincoln’s head, the tire needs to be replaced. “I tell my customers that 1/4" of tread is the bare minimum they should have. If you have less than that, you need to consider a new pair of tires,” King said.

Front tires will often wear out before the rear tires on a lot of vehicles, so it’s important to rotate them regularly to ensure even wear through the year. “It’s a good policy to check your car out at the beginning of each season so you can be prepared for what’s ahead,” King said.