Dear Professional Driver,
This month’s letter concerns tire safety, specifically the tires on your family vehicle. A well maintained set of tires provide protection against breakdowns and crashes, improved vehicle handling and better fuel economy. This is especially true when you pack the minivan heading out for summer vacation. As a professional tractor/trailer driver, you know when towing a boat or camper, the weight of the load is transferred to the towing vehicle. You need to inspect the tires prior to getting underway. The following safety checklist should be used when inspecting your tires:
• Check tire pressure regularly, including the spare
• Inspect tires for uneven wear patterns on the tread, cracks, FOD (Foreign Object Damage)
• Ensure tire valves have valve caps
• Don’t overload the vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s recommended weights
Tires naturally lose air over time. It is important to check tire pressures regularly. Keep a tire pressure gauge in the glove box to have readily available. To determine what the proper tire pressure should be, read your owners’ manual, spec plate inside the car door or look on the tire sidewall. The PSI shown reflects the minimum/maximum pressures when the tire is cold. To get an accurate tire pressure reading, wait until the vehicle has been unused for at least 3 hours.
The safe driver regularly checks the tire tread wear. Today’s tires have built-in tread wear indicators advising you when it’s time to replace them. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear even with the outside of the tread, it is time to replace the tire. You can always test the tread wear using the trick our fathers taught us; using a Lincoln penny. Have Abe’s head upside down and insert the penny into the tread. If the tread doesn’t cover Abe’s head, time to go to the tire store.
Take care of your tires when driving. Slow down if you have to go over a pot-hole or other object in the road. Do not run over curbs and not strike the curb when parking. Please keep in mind everything is riding on your tires, the only thing between you and the asphalt. Take care of your tires so they can take care of you.