■ StatePoint Media / Contributed
Today’s cars are packed with impressive features. Stability control. Ride assist. Ever-more-powerful engines. But no matter what technology makes its way into your car — it’s your tires that connect it to the road, making their construction and maintenance critical for safe, effective driving.
So, what do you need to know? The experts at Cooper Tires are offering these helpful insights.
Valve stems are crucial. Those little caps on the valve help to keep out moisture and dirt, as well as provide an additional seal to the valve core, holding air in the tires and helping maintain tire pressure.
Check the manual. Proper tire pressure is important for safety, performance and fuel economy, and can extend the life of your tires by reducing the chance of uneven wear. But don’t check the tire sidewall for this information. That’s where the maximum pressure allowed for the tire is listed. The proper inflation pressure can be found by checking the vehicle’s owner’s manual or the placard found on the driver’s side door jamb, glove box or fuel door.
Beware of under-inflation. Even when tires look properly inflated, they may be under-inflated by as much as 50 percent. Under-inflation can lead to tire failure, and tires that are under-inflated by 8 pounds per square inch (PSI) or more can increase your fuel consumption by 4 percent.
Weather matters. Outside temperature can affect tire pressure more than you might expect. On average, experts say that tire pressure decreases by about 1 PSI for every 10-degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature. The changing seasons are a good reminder to check pressure.
“All season” tires have limits. “All season” tires are meant for year-round moderate weather. Install winter tires for dealing with severe winter weather conditions.
Tread check is easy. Tire tread should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep. Check for this by inserting a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there’s at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point around the tire, it’s time to replace the tire.
Off-road adventures require off-road tires. Road tires may be able to handle the occasional jaunt down a gravel driveway or dirt road, but when you’re heading off-road you’ll need something more rugged, such as the Cooper Discoverer STT Pro, which has been designed for off-road use.
Tires should be checked regularly. Every month and before long road trips, perform this DIY routine: check tire pressure, check tread depth, check the overall condition of the tires for cuts, cracks, splits, punctures, irregular wear and bulges.
Know the limits of your tires. If you’re the type of driver more likely to use the gas pedal than the brake, choose tires designed for high-performance, such as the Cooper Zeon RS3-G1, which features great grip and handling.
As cars go high-tech, don’t forget that selecting the right tires and keeping them in good shape are two of the most important things you can do to stay safe on the road.