You and your companion. Your car. The open road. The possibilities. The destination is just a bonus.
You’ve packed your things. You’ve checked your map and identified which routes to take. But before you hit the road, there’s one more critical task that you need to do:
Make sure that your ride is roadworthy
From making sure that all lights are working to checking the battery, performing a thorough car check will assure you of a smooth ride from point A to point B. That means checking essential car components, including the tires.
Here’s a list of the things you need to do to check if your tires are ready for a long ride.
Check the Tire Pressure
Proper tire inflation translates to fuel efficiency. Furthermore, it can contribute to safety as well as ensure more mileage from your tires.
Ideally, you should check tire pressure every month or before venturing out for a long road trip. Although your vehicle may have a tire pressure monitoring system, it is still vital to manually check for the tire pressure.
The recommended tire pressure will vary from one car model to another, and it is best to consult your car’s manual.
Inspect the Spare
Remember to check your spare tire before venturing out as well. Check for tire pressure and other signs of wear and tear. Buy a new one if necessary.
Rotate your Tires
Tire rotation extends the life of tires by ensuring even wear. Often, uneven wear on the tires is a sign of imbalance, misalignment, or other problems.
How frequently you rotate your car’s tires will depend on the model of your vehicle. However, one good rule of thumb to follow is to rotate after 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
Measure Thread Depth
Wear and loss of tread depth can lead to the loss of a tire’s ability to grip the road, especially during inclement weather and in other adverse worse conditions. This can lead to hydroplaning and skidding.
Apart from checking for visible signs of wear and tear, you should also measure the tread depth of each tire. One simple way to do that is with a penny. All you have to do is to put a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you see the full head on the coin, then it means that you need to replace your tire.
Check the Wheel Bearings
Missing or damaged wheel bearings can create unusual noises or uneven tire wear, or even make it difficult to use the steering wheel.
Check for these signs, and if you suspect that any of these symptoms may be related to the wheel bearing, you need to go to a licensed mechanic. Under no circumstances should you drive your car with faulty wheel bearings as this can lead to the wheels falling off while you are driving.
Buying a New Tire
If you need to replace one or more tires, make sure that the ones you buy are similar to the ones originally installed in your car. You can either check your car’s manual or the sidewall on one of the tires currently installed on your vehicle.
On the Road
Once you have checked your tires and ensured that these are ready for the long trip ahead, there are a few other things that you can do to avoid other tire-related problems:
Bring only what is Necessary
Packing and overloading your car can wear your tires down faster and could drastically reduce fuel efficiency. If you don’t need a particular item, or if you can buy it on the way to your destination, don’t bring it.
Driving head-on toward potholes can damage your tires and can cause misalignment. Keep your eyes on the road. If you cannot avoid potholes or if you’ve run through other obstacles, check the tires for damage.
Drive within Speed Limits
The combination of fast driving speed and improper tire pressure can lead to friction and excessive heat on tires that will lead to blowouts. Best to drive within the speed limit and practice Lane Courtesy.
Consult the Pros
If something seems amiss with your vehicle, do not hesitate to consult your licensed car mechanic. This is especially true if you are heading for a long drive.
Hassanein Alwan is the Managing Director of Mineral Circles Bearings with more than ten years experience in the bearing industry’s technical support division, sales, and marketing, plus strategic business development consultancy.