With the summer driving season upon us, it’s time to pay careful attention to those four thin grooved balloons that keep you from plunging down that scenic overlook. Tires demand careful and regular inspection. A weekly hand wash is the best way to stay on top of your rubber. Cracks and bulges and protruding pieces of metal demand immediate attention from your tire professional. If they pass the visual, it’s time to check the air pressure. Only do this when the tires are cold. Use a digital gauge (it is 2012) and make sure each tire is at the correct psi. (You can find this info on the inside of the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual.)
A hand pump can quickly add a few pounds if you need to. Many vehicles have different requirements for front and rear tires. Tires gain and lose pressure due to ambient temperature, so some fluctuation is normal.If one tire is much lower or higher than the others, this could indicate a problem. It could be due to corrosion on the wheel preventing a good seal or a faulty valve stem. Most tires have wear indicators to let you know when it’s time for replacement, but they’re usually too far gone at this point. Replace them before they lose a significant amount of tread groove.
Rotating tires can insure even wear, but some car makers discourage rotation. Also consider the cost of rotation: it might be more expensive to rotate your tires over their life than what you gain in longevity unless you do it yourself. (A real pain without a lift.) A nice shiny dressing may make them last a little bit longer and at the very least, looks good.
Crank these tunes while you roll:
- “Wheels” by Emmylou Harris. The greatest invention since the radio.
- “Drivin’ Wheel” by Foghat. It’s the dirtiest one.
- “The Wheel” by Jerry Garcia. The karma tire.
- “Wheel in the Sky” by Journey. One wheel to rule them all.
- “Rollin Down the Highway” by Bachman Turner Overdrive. Heavy load.