Tires are an important part of your car. Since they’re in contact with the road constantly, they’re also pretty vulnerable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), flats and blowouts are often a cause of highway traffic accidents if the driver and those around them are unlucky. If a driver is lucky and has a blowout or flat, they’ll simply have to pull over to the side of the road and either put on a spare tire, call roadside assistance for help with their spare, or call a tow truck (in case the driver doesn’t have a spare).
Some flat tires are unavoidable–debris on the road such as nails or other sharp objects can easily puncture the tire causing air to leak out, no matter how good of shape the tire is. However, many flats and blowouts can be prevented with a bit or minor maintenance. We’ve put together some tips that should make it easy to take proper care of your tires and help prevent some of these potentially dangerous blowouts and flats from occurring while you’re driving.
Watch Your Treads
There are two ways that can help you determine when your tires are becoming worn out.
Wear Bars: The first way to check is with the built-in wear bars on your tires. Look closely between your tires’ treads and you should see little bars that stretch across the groove. If your treads are level with the wear bars, it’s a good sign that it’s time for a new set of tires.
The Coin Trick: Place a quarter, facing you with the head down, between the grooves your tire. If the tread touches Washington’s head, you have at least 4/32 inch of tread remaining, but if it doesn’t reach his head you should consider replacing the tire. If you don’t have a quarter on you, you can do the same thing with a penny: place a penny, facing you with the head down, between the grooves. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to upgrade.
Keep an Eye on Air Pressure
You should keep an eye on your tires’ air pressure–under-inflated tires are a common cause of blowouts and flats. They also add to your gas bill because they lower your car’s fuel economy. If your tires are over-inflated, they are more likely to be damaged when driving on bumpy roads.
You should check your air pressure several times a year, ideally once a month. If not, be sure to check when the weather starts changing (around the end/beginning of each season) because your tire pressure likely won’t stay consistent. According to the experts at Goodyear, air pressure in a tire typically goes down 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change. Heat increases air pressure and can cause them to be over inflated.
Don’t just estimate your tires’ air pressure by eyeballing it, without using a pressure gauge it’s impossible to be sure. Consult your car’s manual for the recommended pounds per square inch (PSI), or search Google if your manual is nowhere to be found.
Don’t Overload Your Vehicle
If you look at the side of your tire, you should be able to find a maximum load rating printed near the center. Be sure that when you load up your car you don’t exceed this limit or your tires will be subjected to more heat and friction, which can cause them to malfunction. If you don’t see the maximum load rating, you should be able to search Google for your tires and get the information online.
Get Your Tires Rotated During Your Next Oil Change
Your car’s weight is distributed unevenly. You have a heavy engine in the front, and the rear is typically lighter; if you drive by yourself a lot, there’s more weight on the front left side than any other; there are a number of reasons this imbalance occurs.
This means that your tires don’t wear at the same rate, so the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recommends you rotate at least every 5,000 miles. Your best bet is to have them rotated every time you take your car in for an oil change (or rotate them yourself if you change your own oil).
As you can see, with minimal effort you can reduce the chances of having a blowout or flat tire while you’re driving down the road. You can’t avoid every blowout, but if you take the steps we’ve outlined above you’ll be much better off!
In the unfortunate event of a blowout or flat, stay calm and get over to the RIGHT side of the road as quickly, safely, and far away from the road as possible. We’re putting together tips on how to safely handle a flat tire/blowout scenario and it will be posted soon! Once you’ve parked your vehicle, you’ll either need to change the tire yourself or call in a professional. If you’re looking for reliable local roadside assistance in the San Marcos area, give Will Tow a call at 512-738-5748 and we’ll be happy to help!