April showers bring May flowers and…wet driving conditions. Now that the long winter is over, millions of Americans will take to the roads again for holiday road trips and long weekend getaways. The Rubber Manufacturers Association reminds you to check your tires (and the spare) at least once a month and before every long trip.
As you prepare to hit the road again this spring, consider the following advice to make sure your tires are ready for the trip and that you arrive safely at your destination:
- Good brakes and years of driving experience aren’t enough to ensure that you will be able to stop quickly in wet weather. In fact, stopping on a wet road can take up to four times the normal distance on a dry road. During wet weather conditions, drive slowly and keep in mind that stopping distances will be longer.
- Check the pressure of your tires once a month, and before every long trip, to ensure that when you do need to stop, your tires can do everything they’re supposed to do to help you. The correct inflation pressure for your tires is specified by the vehicle manufacturer and is shown on the vehicle door edge, door post, glove box door or fuel door. It is also listed in the owner’s manual. The maximum inflation pressure listed on the tire is not the recommended pressure.
- Rain water that mixes with oil or grime on the streets can cause slippery conditions that may result in unexpected skidding. Slow down and pay attention to the possibility of skidding.
- Make sure you have the alignment and balance of your tires checked regularly so that if you do skid, your vehicle is properly equipped to help you stop safely.
- Rotating your tires can sometimes help correct irregular tire wear. Before rotating your tires, always refer to your car’s owner’s manual for rotation recommendations. If no rotation period is specified, tires should be rotated approximately every 5,000 miles.
- In a sudden downpour, driving fast or driving on worn tires can cause your tires to hydroplane – this means that your tires “surf” along on a film of water just like a water skier.
- Slow down in sudden downpours and make sure you check the tread on your tires once per month and before every long trip. Your tires should have at least 2/32 inch of tread depth.
In many areas of the country, the snow and ice of winter have left roads in bad shape. The repeated freezing and thawing of moisture seeps through road surfaces and causes potholes. Keep these driving tips in mind this spring as you travel:
- Hitting potholes can throw your car’s front end out of alignment. If you feel your car “pulling” during driving, that’s a clue that you could have a problem. Check the tread on your tires: uneven tread wear can be a sign of misalignment. If you hit a severe pothole, have a tire dealer check your vehicles’ alignment and tire balance.
- When you hit a pothole you can damage your tire and/or the metal wheel of your vehicle. Keeping your tires properly inflated will help reduce damage from potholes and other road hazards.
- The impact of potholes on tires increases dramatically with speed and can cause hidden, internal damage that could lead to tire failure weeks, or even months, later. It’s best to avoid potholes entirely, but if that’s not possible, don’t brake during the pothole impact. Instead, apply brakes before hitting a pothole and release them just prior to impact. Braking during the impact sets up the tire and wheel assembly for a “solid hit” against the edge of the hole. Less severe damage occurs when a tire is rolling than when it is skidding over a hole during braking.
For a copy of our Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART brochure, download here.