Getting ready for a road trip means more than packing your bags and stocking up on snacks. Making sure your car, particularly the tires, is up the task is just as important. The last thing you want is a blown tire and a delay on your trip. The following guide can help you make sure your tires are in good condition and ready to hit the road.
Check the pressure
The recommended tire pressure for your tires is typically printed on the sidewall of the tire in red lettering. You may also be able to find this information in your owner's manual. Before starting your trip, use a tire gauge to verify the pressure in every single tire. Don't overlook the spare tire when checking pressure—you don't want to get a flat tire and find that your spare is out of air as well. If your tire pressure is low, make sure to air up before the trip.
Inspect the tread
Tread depth is the primary method used to check tire life. Insert a Lincoln penny head first into the tread. If the tread doesn't reach at least Lincoln's head, then it is time for new tires. If you are concerned about the possibility of uneven wear, check each tire in several different locations. If there are major differences in wear patterns, either on one tire or between all four, then you need to consider new tires, and you should also have the tires balanced and the car aligned.
Look for sidewall damage
A blowout on the highway can be dangerous. There are typically one of two causes of a blowout: either an object pierces a tire or the sidewall is damaged. Sidewall issues typically occur from driving on low tire pressure, from hitting curbs, or from flaws in the tire. You can catch developing issues and flaws early by inspecting your sidewalls periodically. They should not have any bubbles nor bulges. There should also be no cracking or other visible damage. If you suspect a problem, a professional inspection or replacement is needed.
Stop by a shop
Finally, consider stopping by a tire shop for rotation and balancing, especially if you are heading out on a longer road trip. Not only will this protect your tires, but balancing your tires can also improve gas mileage for your trip. When you have done this, mention any concerns you have to the technician. For example, if one tire was really low on air, the shop can verify that the tire doesn't have a slow leak.
Peace of mind on the road is well worth it, so make sure your tires are up to the challenge of your trip. Visit a tire shop for more information.