Tire Rotation & Tread Inspection

Tire Rotation and Tread Inspection – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

Tire Rotation and Tread Wear InspectionTires are the focus of this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance. As one of the most important safety and performance features on your vehicle, tires need the same attention to maintenance that essential mechanical components require. Tire rotation and tread inspection are two recommended maintenance items that need to be done regularly.

What tire rotation and tread inspection do for vehicle performance

Tire rotation and tread inspection are about extending the usable life of your tires and making sure they are safe. By rotating the tires, you can balance out the wear to get the most even wear on all four tires. Since tires in different positions do not wear the same, this will also help to assure there is a safe and sufficient amount of tread on every tire.

What happens during tire rotation and tread inspection service?

Rotation service consists of rotating or repositioning tires by moving them from one side of the vehicle to the other. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer recommendation, this may include moving them from front to back. Tires tend to wear differently depending on their position, the condition of your suspension, and the way you drive. When your auto service professional rotates your vehicle’s tires, the front tires are usually swapped with the rear tires. Typically the driver side tires stay on the driver side and the passenger side tires stay on the passenger side. This can vary with different types of vehicles or tires.

Why tire rotation and tread inspection are necessary

Regular rotation and tread inspection are important because tires are subjected to a tremendous amount of wear. Without proper rotation, your tires will wear prematurely, preventing you from getting the most from your tire investment. Tire rotation protects your investment by extending the quality and service life of your tires. Tire rotation is also important because it promotes safe and even tread wear. Front and rear tires wear differently. Front tires are subjected to much more pressure than rear tires, so the tread wears more rapidly on the front tires. Regular rotation also improves driving performance and gas mileage.

Quality tires are expensive! It only makes sense to get the most for your money. Tire rotation and tread inspection service will keep your vehicle safe and to keep your tires properly maintained to get the most from them.

How often tire rotation and tread inspection are needed

Generally speaking tire rotation is recommended every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Your service manual will provide you with the best maintenance schedule for your particular make and model vehicle.

Pain in the Rain – Dealing With Hydroplaning

rain2Hydroplaning occurs when the tires of a vehicle ride on top of water that is on the road rather than on the surface of the road. Many drivers may not realize that hydroplaning can happen even when road surfaces are slightly damp. Hydroplaning is a very real possibility whether you are driving in heavy rain or just after a passing shower. It is important for drivers to know how to handle hydroplaning when it occurs, and more importantly how to avoid it.

Those of us who have experienced hydroplaning can attest that it’s really scary situation. If hydroplaning does ever occur while you are driving, it is important to fight the urge to brake or turn suddenly. Try to ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the contact with the road. If you must brake do it with a light pumping action. Most vehicles are now equipped with anti-lock braking systems that will safely and effectively pump automatically as you brake.

It is important to remember that hydroplaning is highly preventable. A few of the avoidable factors that contribute to the likelihood of hydroplaning include worn tire tread and improper inflation, as well as driving at high speeds.

Thanks to developments in tire technology, the tread on your tires has been designed to prevent hydroplaning by channeling and dispersing water and slush away from the face of the tire. Worn tread cannot do this because the channels lack the required depth. Under-inflated tires are also unable to disperse water properly.

Traveling at high speeds can increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. Moving at a higher speed, the tire does not have enough time to push the water out of the way, as it is designed to do. Keeping your tires in good condition and driving smart in inclement weather will go a long way in preventing hydroplaning.

Always slow down when driving through rain, snow, or slush, especially when turning or on curves. Avoid driving through puddles or standing water whenever possible.

Resolved: Better Tire Care in 2017

newyearnewtiresWhile making your New Year’s Resolutions to take better care of yourself, why not also resolve to take better care of your tires? Here are some easy ideas that will help your tires perform better and last longer. Extra benefits you will get include better gas mileage and greater safety on the road.

Regularly Check Your Tire Tread

Follow these easy steps to check your tire tread depth:

  1. Hold a penny so that “In God We Trust” appears across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire, taking note of the visibility of Lincoln’s head.
  2. If you can consistently see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time to go shopping for a new set of tires.
  3. If the top of Lincoln’s head (to about the forehead hairline) is covered throughout the tread grooves, the tread is in good shape and your tires probably do not need replacement.

 Check Tire Pressure

Take time to check your tire pressure at least once a month.  While it doesn’t take long to do, it could save you big by improving your tire life and gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual to confirm the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires. Remember that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure.

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires on a regular basis is an essential part of tire maintenance that will significantly extend their service life. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for the tire rotation recommendations for your particular vehicle.

Tire Balancing

Make sure tire balancing is part of your regular maintenance routine.  Again, check your owner’s manual for the recommended schedule for your car, truck, or SUV. Tire balancing promotes a smooth ride and even tire wear by correctly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle.

Tire Alignment

Improper tire alignment will not only decrease the life of your tires due to uneven tread wear, it will also compromise the safety of your vehicle. Have the alignment checked any time you notice problems with your vehicle’s handling.

Spare Tire Check

Remember to check the condition of your spare tire so you will know it is ready when you need it. Check the pressure of your spare when you check the pressure of your other tires, and remember that a spare is intended for temporary use only.

 

Gift Ideas for Drivers

giftTime is running out for those of us who still have Christmas shopping to do! We all have those hard-to-shop-for people who cause us serious holiday headaches. Whether it is a girl who seems to have everything or a guy who seems to have no interests, an auto-related gift could be just the thing to please them this holiday season. Practically everyone drives, and oftentimes items for the car are things people just don’t think to buy for themselves.

The following is a list of gift ideas to consider for the drivers on your list.

Auto Mats

Life can get messy, and when life gets messy so does your vehicle. Custom fitted, all-season rubber floor mats are a great gift idea for pet owners, parents who chauffeur small children, and people that tend to eat and drink on the go.

Car Vacuum

This is another gift that will be greatly appreciated by those who drive around with dogs and messy kids. A quality portable vacuum cleaning makes keeping a clean ride so much easier.

Car Windshield Snow Cover & Sun Shade Protector

Drivers who have their car parked outside all day will appreciate this all-season windshield protection. This easy-to-install protector keeps the car cool in the summer and free of ice and snow in the winter.

Car Parking Sensor System

Trying to park a large vehicle is a small or crowded garage can be very tricky. A car parking sensor system makes the job much easier and will help drivers avoid scratches and dings.

Folding Shovel

A folding shovel is a great item to keep in the trunk along with a roadside emergency kit. Too often drivers are not prepared for roadside problems, so this gift could be a lifesaver!

Car Wash Coupons

Even those who prefer to do their own washing will appreciate having these in the winter. Keeping a clean car is especially important in the cold weather months when the roads are covered in salty slush.

Digital Tire Pressure Monitor

Keeping tires properly inflated is essential for assuring safe driving and preserving tire tread. A digital tire pressure monitor makes checks easy. This is especially great for drivers of older cars, which may not have TPMS.

Portable Air Compressor

This is not only a great emergency item to keep in your car, a portable air compressor will be useful for filling a leaking tire until it can be fixed. It is also great for other jobs like inflating a camping mattress.

 

 

 

Start the Holiday with a Safe Road Trip

safe road tripAccording to the American Automobile Association Travel Forecast, 48.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more over the holidays. More than 89 percent of holiday travelers will be driving this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over the previous year. If you are among the travelers, be sure to make it a smooth and safe road trip.

Although the fuel prices travelers will pay are slightly higher than last year, those prices will be the second cheapest we’ve seen in nearly a decade. According to the AAA forecast:

“Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.16, 11 cents more than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.05). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, when the national average was $1.85.”

Holiday road trips can be a fun part of the season’s festivities, as long as you are prepared and have a safe road trip. Whether you are driving home or to another special destination for the holidays, here are a few preparation tips:

  1. Be sure your vehicle is ready for the journey with a service check. Things to inspect include: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.
  2. Download an app like GasBuddy to help you find the best gas prices along the way.
  3. Be sure your maps are current, whether it’s updating your GPS or getting the good old paper kind from a gas station.
  4. When packing the car, you may need to remove things you normally keep in the trunk in order to make room for gifts and your luggage. Just be sure not to leave behind your roadside emergency items such as jumper cables or a folding shovel.
  5. If you are traveling with kids, make sure they have something to do to pass the time. You don’t necessarily need a DVD player or a tablet to keep kids occupied. There are plenty of classic travel games for you and the little ones to enjoy together.

Whatever your plans are, have a safe road trip and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Safe Driving Begins with Clear Visibility

clear visibility windshield wipers As summer ends and autumn sets in, keeping your windshield clean for clear visibility becomes a bigger challenge.  There always seems to be more rain as temperatures cool, and with the debris from falling leaves in the air, dust and dirt accumulate on all of your car’s exposed surfaces.

Below are five simple visibility maintenance tips to assure clear visibility while driving so you and your passengers will be as safe as possible on the road.

  1. Inspect your wipers

To be most effective, wiper blades need to be in excellent condition. You should inspect your wiper blades regularly, and ask your auto service professional to check them whenever you bring in your car for other service or repair. As a rule of thumb, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.

  1. Clean your windshield regularly

It doesn’t take long for your windshield to get dirty and hazy. This can be especially dangerous at night, when oncoming lights hit the dirt on your windshield and impair your vision. It is easy to forget to clean your windshield, but if you make a habit of cleaning the windshield every time you fill up, you will be in good shape. Most gas stations have what you need right by the pumps.

  1. Clean your headlights

Take a moment to periodically inspect your headlights. When you look closely, you may be amazed (and disgusted) by the amount of dirt and bug grime that has accumulated on them. If not cleaned, it will eventually get to the point of making your headlight beams dimmer.  Regular cleaning will make them easier to maintain.

  1. Fix windshield cracks or chips

All it takes is a piece of pea gravel traveling at high speed to put your windshield in serious jeopardy. That little crack may be annoying, but all too often it gets overlooked, until one day you hit a bump or pothole. Suddenly that small crack spreads all the way across your windshield. Have those cracks repaired as soon as possible to maintain safe visibility and to avoid the cost of a windshield replacement.

  1. Check your washer fluid

Windshield washer fluid is essential to the proper functioning of your windshield wipers. Letting wiper blades drag across a dry surface is not only ineffective, it can lead to damaging of the blades. Top off your washer fluid at every service interval or whenever the seasons change to avoid being left high and dry. Use windshield washer antifreeze in winter months to prevent damage to your washer system.

Four Ways to Provide Vehicle Theft Protection

antitheftWhether you have to park your vehicle outside at night, or in an unattended public area for extended periods, you may feel that your ride needs a little extra protection. While there is no such thing as a failsafe device, any barriers that you can place between your car and thieves will help. A highly visible  device may be enough to cause a thief to not target your car. There are a wide range of vehicle theft protection options to choose from, or you can try a combination of devices.

Here are four vehicle theft protection options that are available:

Tire and Wheel Locks

Tire and wheel locks look much like the boots used by law enforcement. These high profile devices are instantly visible and make a car nearly impossible to move. These can be purchased from an automotive supply store or online. If your main concern is protecting an expensive set of custom wheels, McGard offers a variety of wheel locks. These locks are similar in appearance to a regular lug nut, but require a special key tool for installation and removal.

Steering Wheel and Column Locks

Much like the wheel lock boots , these highly visible devices offer a visual deterrent to would be thieves. Selections range from inexpensive locks that must be installed manually each time the driver leaves the car to more expensive options that are permanently installed.

VIN Etching

VIN etching identifies your vehicle with a unique number, which is etched onto several parts of your car, including in the windows for would be thieves to see. In addition to providing a visual deterrent, VIN etching also is helpful in recovering a stolen vehicle. VIN etching kits are available for purchase, or in some areas VIN etching services are available.

Kill Switches

A kill switch is a concealed switch that must be activated in order to start the car. The effectiveness of this approach is reliant upon how well the switch is hidden from the thieves, who tend to be adept at finding them. If you opt for a kill switch, make sure your installer is an experienced professional, and that installation will not impact your car’s warranty.

Texting and Driving – Talk to Young Drivers

textingBack to school commutes mean more young drivers on the road – whether it’s a short drive each morning and afternoon, or a long trip to a college campus. Today’s drivers, face a new safety threat/temptation in the form of cell phone use while driving. Young adults and teens have proven to be especially vulnerable to this potentially fatal behavior. If you have a young driver in your family, now is a great time to remind them of what’s at risk with texting and driving.

Texting and Driving is Everyone’s Problem

Many poor choices and destructive habits only affect the person who engages in them. Texting and driving is not one of those kind of behaviors. Literally everyone around the texting driver is in danger, from passengers in that car, to nearby vehicles and pedestrians.

While drivers of all ages can be guilty of texting and driving, young and inexperienced drivers may be particularly susceptible. The invincible, risk-taking attitude teens and young adults often have, combined with a lack of driving experience tends to result in a refusal to acknowledge the danger.

According to the advocacy website, Texting and Driving Safety, the minimum amount of time a driver is distracted by a text is five seconds. In that amount of time, at highway speeds, you will travel the length of a football field. Just a few seconds can result in a huge amount of risk.

An infographic on the website provides some stunning statistics regarding texting and teen driving:

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving
  • 55% of young adult drivers claim it is easy to text while they drive

Whether they admit it or not, there is a problem:

Teens who text while driving spend approximately 10% of driving time outside of their lane.

13% of drivers 18-20 involved in car wrecks admitted to cell phone use at the time of the crash.

There is a wealth of great information to share with young drivers on the Texting and Driving Safety website. There are also a lot of powerful videos on the subject. Here is one example:

Be sure to talk to the young drivers in your life and also to set a good example for them. No amount of age or experience makes texting and driving safe.

Engine Overheating: Six Checks to Avoid A Hot Mess

transmissionInternal combustion engines convert fuel into mechanical energy. With that process comes a lot of heat. Your vehicle’s cooling system manages the heat, making sure that the engine stays cool enough to operate properly. When engine overheating occurs, it can quickly lead to a very dangerous and destructive situation.  Once engine exceeds 230 degrees Fahrenheit, the engine overheats.  At temperatures above 245 degrees Fahrenheit, engine damage may occur.  As heat continues to increase, the different rates of thermal expansion cause metal to distort.

There are the six basic parts of your cooling system. It is important to have these components checked on a regular basis to avoid a hot engine mess.

  1. Coolant – Anti-freeze and coolant are critical to your car’s heating and cooling system. Having the coolant flushes performed per your owner’s manual recommendation is extremely important in assuring your engine runs clean and cool.
  2. Radiator – Have your radiator inspected to be sure it is in good condition, and that the radiator core has not been damaged by salt corrosion. Another issue to watch for is a plugged radiator core. This problem can happen when coolant flushes are not performed.
  3. Cooling Fans – A cooling fan failure can lead to engine overheating problems. In some cases, trouble with the air conditioning system can be a sign that you have a cooling fan problem. Cooling fans should be regularly inspected to avoid engine problems.
  4. Thermostat – There is no set mileage that predicts when it will fail, but when it does, it’s important to replace it as soon as possible. A bad thermostat is a common cause of engine overheating. A failing thermostat can also be indicated by the check engine light illuminating or the car heater not working.
  5. Water Pump – A compromised water pump will often cause a coolant leak, so if you notice the coolant level dropping at a faster rate, you should have it checked as soon as possible. An experienced auto technician will be able to spot a water pump that is about to fail.
  6. Belts and Hoses – The belts and hoses in your cooling system should be inspected to make sure they are tight and in good condition.  Cracks or deterioration of the rubber are signs of trouble.

 

Goodbye Winter, Hello Potholes!

pothole“Oh no, potholes!” is probably a more accurate description of how we feel when we see these road menaces. Potholes not only make driving less comfortable, they can inflict some serious damage on your vehicle. While we do our best to avoid them, sometimes it’s just not possible. It is important to be aware of any problems your vehicle might have after hitting one.

Why are potholes so bad this time of year? The pothole problem actually begins in the winter, when freezing and thawing cycles cause cracks in road surfaces to get larger and further degrade. The application of road salt can accelerate the damage because it creates more freezing and thawing stress, while melting ice on the roadway. In the spring, heavy rains infiltrate the cracks and cause more deterioration.

We have all felt the jolting impact of hitting a deep pothole. Our vehicles feel the impact, too, but to a much greater extent. Hitting potholes often leads to serious vehicle component damage, usually with the shocks and struts, which control ride and handling, and serve as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of the vehicle’s springs. Shocks and struts also regulate spring and suspension movement, keeping the car’s tires in contact with the road to facilitate proper steering, stability, and braking. Compromised shocks and struts can create a dangerous situation, so it is important to be aware of the signs that your shocks or struts may need to be replaced:

  • Swaying or rolling on turns
  • Bottoming out or thumping on bumps
  • Bouncing or sliding sideways on rough or winding roads
  • Front-end dives when braking or rear end dips when accelerating
  • Loss of directional control during abrupt stops
  • Noticeable puddles under the car or leaking fluids

Hitting potholes can also result in tire and wheel damage, engine and  exhaust system issues, as well as suspension problems. It’s important to have your vehicle inspected if you experience any of the these types of issues. Addressing pothole damage issues early can prevent more extensive problems down the road.