(BPT) - With the final days of summer upon us, now is the time to spend a few extra minutes performing a tire safety check. Here are three easy steps to ensure your tires will be ready to handle the season change and keep you and your family safe year-round.
Stay on top of your tire pressure. Many drivers enjoy road trips from early summer through October and both under-inflation and over-inflation can affect your ride. Overinflated tires can degrade ride comfort, reduce traction, cause fast centerline wear and result in increased susceptibility to tire/suspension damage due to harder impacts with pot holes and road hazards. Similarly, Underinflated tires are prone to uneven wear, heat buildup leading to structural damage, and reduced impact resistance. Underinflation can sub-optimize stopping and cornering power and result in poor fuel economy. Checking inflation pressure is most accurate when the vehicle has been at rest and out of direct sunshine for several hours.
Check your tire tread depth. After a long summer of family road trips, you will need to determine if your summer tires have worn out. While obvious signs of damage such as cracks, splits and punctures can help drivers identify a problem, it’s also important to check tire tread depth on a monthly basis. Tread depth plays an important role in how well your tires maintain steering control and traction when the road is wet, slushy, snowy, icy, muddy or gravelly. An easy way to check your tire tread is to insert a penny into the tires’ tread grooves with Lincoln’s head upside down. If Lincoln’s head is fully visible, you have 2/32-inch or less tread remaining and it’s time to replace the tire. Remember that tires depend on their treads to grip, so the deeper the tread, the better the tire will be in both rain and snow.
Know what questions to ask when buying new tires. Once you decide it’s time to invest in new tires, you should know the right questions to ask. The answers will vary depending on the region and the type of weather you live in. In many places driving on summer tires into the fall and winter will be unsafe. All-season tires are created to handle a wide variety of road conditions, while winter tires are better geared toward deep snows. If you are interested in the ability to drive both on- and off-road regularly, all-terrain tires may be the best option for your vehicle.
Additionally, asking how the tires are rated and what that rating means will tell you how long the tire tread is expected to last. The traction grade communicates the ability of the tire to halt within a shorter distance and the temperature grade lets you know how the tire will resist heat.
No matter what type of tire you choose, changing weather and road conditions means your tires need to be at their top performance to keep you and your family safe. Now is the time to inspect your tires and invest in new ones before challenging weather strikes and tire inventories start to dwindle. For those willing to beat the rush, USAA is partnering with a tire retailer to offer its members a discount on a new set of tires now through Oct. 30. The 25 percent discount applies to any USAA member purchasing tires and can only be accessed from the “My Vehicles” section on USAA.com or the USAA mobile app.