Next week a record number of people will be travelling on America’s roadways for Independence Day vacations. According to AAA, a new record will be set with 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day.
Travel numbers are up this year for several reasons. Lower gas prices have more people making road trip plans and a robust economy has greater numbers of Americans planning vacations across the United States.
When making your plans for your Independence Day holiday or other summer travel, make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the road. Start with this check list:
- Test your battery
- Check your lights to make sure all are working
- Make sure wiper blades are in good shape
- Check fluid levels
- Check the pressure on all tires including your spare
- Pack roadside emergency items like jumper cables and travel compressor
Other ideas for planning a smoother trip include:
- Make sure your maps are up-to-date – whether paper or GPS
- Download an app like GasBuddyto make sure you find the best gas prices
- Check out the Waze app for real-time traffic info
- Pack snacks and drinks for the car to save time and money
- Plan your route and stops before you leave
- Bring along a cell phone charger with a car adapter
Where ever you are planning to go, have fun and have a safe trip!
Tires are perhaps the most important and most overlooked safety features of your car. In our last post, we looked at why tire tread is so important. This follow up post will look at how taking care of your tires and tread will assure they remain safe and keep performing at their best.
What Can I Do to Protect My Tires and Tread?
Tire tread is a key performance feature of your tires. Periodic tire tread checks are important to the preservation of your tires. Drivers don’t often think of inspecting their tread unless they have a noticeable leak or have had an encounter with glass or other road debris. Looking at your tire tread regularly provides you with the opportunity to notice wear trends before excessive damage can occur. Issues can be identified by sight inspection or by running your hand over the tread and feeling for problematic areas. These might include distortion in the tread, feathering or cupping. If caught early enough, bad wear patterns can be corrected to extend tire service life.
Keeping your tires properly inflated is also an extremely important part of tire maintenance and extending tire life. If tire inflation decreases to a level that is below the recommended pressure, an additional load is placed on the shoulder of the tire. This will cause that area to wear prematurely. Another problem with under-inflation is that it causes heat to build up within the tire, which increases rolling resistance and reduces fuel economy.
What Services Do I Need to Preserve My Tires and Tread?
Per your owners’ manual, wheel alignment is an essential regular maintenance service you need. This service has a direct effect on your tires because poor vehicle alignment is a very common cause of unusual tread wear. When tires are unable to run straight ahead, accelerated tread wear occurs on certain parts of the tire. Consistent alignment service will prevent your vehicle from experiencing a variety of alignment related problems, including uneven and premature tread wear.
Tire rotation should be performed on an regular basis. A consistent and documented schedule of tire rotation will extend tire service life by promoting even tread wear.
Compromised wheel and suspension components can also adversely impact tire service life. For example, a wheel bearing that has been incorrectly torqued can cause irregular tire wear, or a worn shock absorbers can create depression wear on treads. Rather than waiting until trouble strikes, replace shock absorbers and other suspension components as part of regular maintenance.