Feel Like You’re Just Spinning Your Wheels? Check Your Motor Vehicle’s Tires.
That’s right, check your motor vehicle’s tires.
With the winter months upon us, now is the perfect time to consider one of the most important, and often overlooked, features of your motor vehicle — the tires. It’s where the rubber meets the road and when the roads are wet or icy, your tires can save you from slipping and sliding. IF, that is, they are in good condition and are being correctly maintained.
With today’s tires lasting 60,000-plus miles, “required maintenance” is easy to ignore. But taking the time to inspect your tires on a regular basis can not only extend the life of your wheels, it can also prevent accidents on the road.
Here are some things to consider:
• Tire pressure – Simply put, checking the air pressure of your tires is something you should do frequently.
The fact that the air in your tires is a gas means that it expands and contracts when heated or cooled, respectively. In the winter months especially tires can lose pressure quickly, affecting not only gas mileage, but also the handling.
It’s best to check the pressure before you leave in the morning to get an accurate read. This way the tires don’t have time to heat up. If you do notice your tires are low, it’s worth the $0.75 to inflate them at the local convenience store air pump to ensure optimum wear. Make sure you have them inflated to the specs inscribed on the tires by the motor vehicle manufacturers. You can also check your car’s owner’s manual for recommended inflation pressure for cold tires.
Keep in mind, low pressure can also be caused by a pesky nail or other sharp object embedded in the tire. A quick stop at an auto shop will have this type of problem fixed and get your motor vehicle back on the road in no time.
• Next, there’s the treads. Seriously worn down treads can affect stop-and-start traction and cause you to hydroplane and slide on slick roads. One way to check the tread of your tires for wear is to use a penny. Holding the coin upside down so Abraham Lincoln’s head is touching the tire, place the penny into the grooves. If the tread covers the hair on Lincoln’s head, then the treads should be good to go. If they are worn down so much that the tread doesn’t cover his hair, it’s time to shop for some new tires.
• It’s common knowledge, but an often-forgotten practice, that the tires should be rotated and balanced approximately every six months or 6,000 miles. This not only provides a smoother ride, but ensures that all four tires wear evenly, subsequently extending the life of the tires.
Quite often, the place where you bought your tires will perform this service for free, so the only cost associated with performing this maintenance is your time. In other words, it’s well worth it.
The balanced part of this service ensures that the weight of the tires is the same around the entire vehicle and helps with uneven tread wear and unnecessary vibration.
• Finally, there’s the alignment. Though aligning your car can cost around $75, it is money well spent. Not only does aligning improve the fuel economy of the car, it helps with control on the road and steering so your tires wear even. Experts recommended you align a car at least twice a year.
Before you hit the road, do more than just kick the tires, inspect them closely for any of the above problems. It’ll make the ride much more enjoyable.
While RoadLoans offers car loans that enable qualified applicants with good and bad credit* to get on the road, what keeps you behind the wheel of your car is maintenance.
* “Bad” or “Poor” credit generally is considered a FICO score around 600 and below by sources including the Consumer Federation of America and National Credit Reporting Association (reported by the Associated Press), Bankrate.com, Credit.com, Investopedia, NerdWallet.com and others. The Congressional Budget Office identifies a FICO score of 620 as the “cutoff” for prime loans. FICO scores are not the sole factor in lending decisions by RoadLoans.com and Santander Consumer USA.