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How to Inspect Tires

Your vehicle's tires are extremely important. In fact, they might just be the single most important component on your car. Why? Because every action that you take behind the wheel – whether it is accelerating, braking, or turning – is transmitted to the road surface through your vehicle's tires. A tire that is under or over inflated, or that lacks sufficient tread depth, can greatly affect your vehicle's handling and road holding.

For these reasons, it is important that you know how to inspect tires for wear, as well as over or under inflation. If you don't know how to inspect a tire, there's no need to worry. Doing so is simple – just follow these steps:

Inspecting Your Tire's Tread Depth

It is important that you monitor your tire's tread depth for two reasons:

  1. The tread is what helps evacuate water from underneath the tire so that you can maintain traction in adverse weather; and
  2. If the tread is worn down too much, the bare metal beneath the rubber will be exposed, which will greatly reduce traction and put you at greater risk for a blowout.

Thankfully, checking tread depth is easy. In fact, it's so easy that you can do it with spare change. To measure tread depth:

  • Grab a penny from your pocket
  • Find the shallowest tread groove for measurement purposes
  • Place the penny upside down into the tread, with the face of the penny pointing towards you
  • If any part of Abraham Lincoln's head is covered by the tire, you have sufficient tread

Inspecting Your Tire's Air Pressure

It is important to monitor your tire pressure as too little or too much air can greatly impact your vehicle's handling characteristics. Checking your air pressure is easy so long as you have a tire pressure gauge. If you do not, you can purchase one from any auto parts or general store. They vary in type and quality, but so long as you buy one that provides accurate and clearly legible readings, you'll be good to go.

To check your tire pressure, first find the recommended PSI levels on your tire's sidewall. Next to the recommended PSI limit will be the maximum tire pressure limit. It is important that you never exceed this limit as it can cause a rupture. Once you have found the recommended pressure level, insert the pressure gauge in the tire's valve stem. Press and hold until the pressure of the tire's air has registered on your tire gauge. Note the pressure level and remove the gauge.

If the tire's air pressure is above the recommendation, you should consider removing air, being sure to monitor PSI levels as you go. If the tire pressure is too low, drive to your nearest gas station (avoiding the freeway if at all possible) to inflate it to proper levels. Monitoring your tire pressure will help ensure you stay safe on the road.


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