When it comes to our vehicles, safety and handling are top concerns. The two, of course, go hand in hand. But, some people make the mistake of focusing on the various parts of a vehicle as if they are their own entities rather than how they all work together to keep things going. This really isn’t the best approach.
Ask anyone what frustrates them the most about owning a vehicle. Barring the price of automobile insurance (maybe), the answer is probably how expensive the typical auto repair can be. Why do repairs end up being so pricey? Can’t this be done for less? The answer is yes, it probably could have been repaired for less. But, the opportunity for that was months ago before the perfect storm of multiple connected components failing occurred. That’s not meant to be chiding. Rather, in order to save money, it’s important to know that nearly everything is interconnected when it comes to your vehicle’s safety and handling.
This is all to say, “Hey, have you checked on your tires lately?” If it’s been longer than six months since your last tire inspection, you’re going to want to schedule an appointment to have your mechanic take a look.
Yes, in all of the talk of staying on top of your vehicle to make sure it’s handling fine, you need to be diligent about taking the proper care of your tires. Too often, we focus on the really glaring issues like grinding brakes or pulling to one side when driving when there are other things that should be checked before you get to that point.
What we hope to do is here is to stress how important it is to be mindful of your tires and how your tires relate to the other parts of your vehicle that are often the focus when it comes to auto repairs.
Why Tires Get Overlooked
Believe it or not, there have been studies done on people’s attitudes towards their vehicle’s tires and how many of the common dangerous conditions they could identify. Most respondents could identify at least one risk factor for tire failure, but only 4% could identify a major one: the age of your tires. It’s no secret that vehicle accidents cause a significant number of fatalities every year. What you may not know is that about 6,000 of those fatalities are tied to improper vehicle maintenance and tire failure.
Most people can identify worn treads and improper air pressure as major contributors to tire failure and accidents. That’s because you can feel those things to varying degrees while you’re driving. Improper air pressure can cause audible screeching or imperfect steering and handling. If your car isn’t stopping as quickly as it used to, one could suspect the tread has been worn down. It could also be your brakes. Which brings us to the next point about how all of these things are actually connected.
How Tires Relate to Brake and Steering Safety
The condition of your tires has a direct effect on how your braking and steering responds. It’s true that the condition of your brakes themselves are very important to how well your vehicle stops and responds to depressing the pedal. But, your tires are an equally important part of the equation.
Worn tires with low tread can be just as concerning as brakes that are on their way out. That’s because your vehicle will lose a great amount of its ability to “grip” the road as you try to stop. This can mean inaccurate steering where you can more easily lose control. The vehicle won’t be as responsive when trying to stop short. This is especially true if you’re driving in wet conditions. Rainy days can make having worn tread exceptionally dangerous because your ability to control your vehicle diminishes more than it normally would with properly inflated and treaded tires. When your vehicle’s handling begins to feel different, don’t automatically assume there’s something seriously wrong with your brakes or alignment. It could be something as simple as your tires being old, worn out, or not properly inflated. At this early stage, it could be a simple fix that helps solve your problems before they become more serious and expensive.
What to Look for When Evaluating Tires
So, you’ve seen how critical the status of your tires are to the safety and handling of your vehicle. You know that staying on top of their maintenance is not only important for the tires themselves but also your braking and steering. What should you look for then?
You should give your tires a once over every month or so. Sudden variations in temperature may prompt you to check your tire pressure more often because they will respond differently to hotter and colder temperatures. Tread can be checked with the good old penny method. For those who don’t know, you put a penny in the tread of your tires upside down. If Lincoln’s head is still visible, then your tread is too worn and you need to change your tires.
To circle back to the topic of aged tires being a silent danger, you should really consider changing tires that are over five or six years old. Ask your mechanic what would be best, but generally, after that point, you’re running a greater risk of sudden blowouts because the rubber is too worn down.
The Proper Maintenance
You should really be having your tires checked once a year by a professional to ensure that you’re driving safely. That’s because there may be issues that you’re not aware of that need to be addressed relatively soon. While checking your own pressure often is good practice, and even spot checking your tread, nothing can beat a mechanic with experience inspecting your vehicle. You may have cracks in the tire that could lead to an incident. Maybe the alignment of your tires is off. Perhaps the rim of the hub is in danger of tearing through the rubber. These are all things your mechanic will alert you to.
As part of your yearly inspection, you’ll also find out about the other possible issues with your braking and steering. Also, keep in mind that there are different tires for different seasons. There is a noticeable performance difference between summer, winter, and all year tires. Depending on the climate you live in, it’s important to know which tires would be best for you.
Easy way to save money
One of the easiest ways to save money is to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 6,000 miles. Tires wear unevenly depending on where they are located on your vehicle and where you drive. Rotating them routinely helps to even out the wear and prolong the tires life. Anyone who has purchased ties knows they aren’t cheap. So any means to protect your tire investment is money in the bank!
Making sure your vehicle is up to safety standards takes work. Auto repairs can be pricey, but they don’t need to be if you perform the proper maintenance. Many people don’t worry about their tires until it’s too late and there are real issues that need to be addressed in the immediate future. Combined with their effect on braking and steering, it would be unwise to overlook the importance of staying on top of proper tire maintenance. If you’re unsure if your tires are appropriate for the current season, if they are in acceptable condition, or if it’s time for new ones, call us today. The team at Independent Motors is dedicated to providing you with the best service at a fair price. Don’t take chances when it comes to your tires. Get them inspected soon.