As you all know, we travel a lot. My family lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I live in Oak Lawn, IL (suburb of Chicago). At best, it is a 3.5 hour drive. At worst, it has taken us over 6 hours to get there (granted, it was a snow storm). We also own a camper that we tow, and we drive when we go on vacation. You may remember my posts about Myrtle Beach this summer. Besides all our family travel, I have a husband who travels a minimum of 60 miles a day for his job.
One of the most important things on your car is your tires. However, most people don’t ever think about them until they have a flat tire! I will even admit to being guilty of that. That is why we need to talk about tires!
First, did you know there is a difference between tire types and that there is a grading system?
The Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) is printed on the sidewall. A tire’s UTQG consists of three factors and is assigned by the tire manufacturer. UTQG is listed as follows: Treadwear XXX Traction X Temperature X. These ratings can be compared within the same brand but not across brands. The tread wear grade (the numeric portion of the UTQG) is a comparative rating based on the wear rate of the tire when tested under controlled conditions on a specified government test track. Tread wear grades are not a guarantee of actual tire mileage as factors such as driving habits, climate and road characteristics impact tire longevity. Traction grades range from AA – C, with AA being the highest. Temperature grades range from A – C with A being the comparative rating based on the wear rate of the tire when tested under controlled conditions on a specified government test track.
Now, before you have a blowout, there are a few warning signs you will see. Things you should look for when inspecting your tires include:
- Uneven wear and cracking
- Tire tread is below 2/32 if an inch in depth
- There are grooves, tracks or cuts in the sidewall
- Bulges or blisters that extend outward from the rest of the surface
It is very important that you do proper tire maintenance. This holds especially true here in Illinois where the constant temperature fluctuations can totally mess with your tires. Not everyone here uses winter tires.
Also make sure you maintain proper tire pressure. When I got to visit Sears, I could totally tell these tires were low. If I can tell, that tells you how bad they were! Under- and over-inflation of tires creates excessive heat and stress, which can lead to tire failure. Vehicle manufacturers specify the correct tire pressure for tires. You find it on the inside of the driver’s side door or in the vehicle owner’s manual. SAC experts recommend checking tire pressure once a month and before big trips. We check this a lot more ourselves when it starts getting really cold out. Your visual inspection will catch low air pressure or if you have a leak. You should check your tires routinely for any objects which may have penetrated the exterior. Your sidewalls may show bulges, gouges, cuts or irregularities. Next, check your tread to make sure there are no unusual tread wear patterns which could indicate larger issues like misalignment. The worst thing is when you drive on a flat (don’t ask me how I know that!). You should also rotate your tires regularly. Tire rotation can prevent irregular tread wear. While there’s no universal recommendation for rotating your tires, the vehicle owner’s manual contains mileage recommendations for rotation. SAC recommends rotation every 5,000 to 8,000 miles if no recommendation is listed. Having your alignment checked is also very important.
Improper alignment can cause premature tread wear. I’ve learned this one from experience! You should have your alignment regularly checked by experts to help lengthen the life of your tires and prevent premature or irregular tread wear. Tires with worn tread have reduced traction and are more likely to hydroplane or fail. Lastly, use a penny to check your tires’ tread depth. Never done the penny test? When holding a penny upside down, if the top of Abe Lincoln’s head doesn’t disappear within the tread, your tires are unsafe and need to be replaced.
You should also monitor your tires age. Tires usually last between three and five years, depending on climate and driving patterns. Bill goes thru tires faster than I do just because he drives so much more than me.
Here’s a great video for some more Tire Maintenance tips:
Not sure if your tires are okay — make sure you Schedule an Appointment at Sears Auto and they can let you know! They will hook you up to this really cool machine that will let you know where you and your car stand.
How often do you inspect your tires? Did you learn anything from my visit to Sears Auto Center?