Two Things You Need to Check Before Your Next Drive

Two Things You Need to Check Before Your Next Drive

So, you’ve heard over and over that you need to check the pressure and tread on your car’s tires regularly. But do you have any idea how to do so correctly?

First, let’s talk tire pressure:

There are countless benefits to having properly-inflated tires, including safety, increased tire lifespan and better fuel economy. What more could you ask for? Some of you may say “But my car has TPMS. Do I still have to monitor my tire pressure”? Although newer cars feature Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, keep in mind that it only notifies you once your tire pressure is too low. Simply said, it’s not a substitute for regularly checking tire pressure.

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To learn how to check your tire pressure, watch this video or follow the instructions below:

  • Obtain tire pressure gauge
  • Locate and remove valve stem cap
  • Insert gauge into valve stem, adjusting accordingly, so that the hissing stops
  • Obtain reading and compare it to recommended PSI, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on the sticker inside your driver side door.
  • Add air, if necessary
  • Replace valve stem cap
  • Now you’re all set! Just set a calendar reminder to check your tires every month

Inspecting Your Tires

Another important thing to keep an eye on is the condition of the outer side of your tires – the tread. In order to measure whether you have a safe amount of tread or not, you’ll need two things: a Tire and a penny.

Measuring Tread Depth. Photo provided by Whitney Gonzalez

Measuring Tread Depth. Photo provided by Whitney Gonzalez

Place the penny in the grooves of your tires so that Lincoln is on his head. Measure across the width of your tire, noting whether you can see the top of Honest Abe’s head or not. If you can’t see it, your tires still have a safe amount of tread, which allows your tires to effectively grip the road. However, if you do see the top of Abe’s head, it’s time for new tires, as the amount of tread (or lack thereof) is dangerous. Picture a rainy day … you wouldn’t want your tires to hinder your ability to stop at safe distances.

Measuring Tread Depth. Photo provided by Whitney Gonzalez.

Measuring Tread Depth. Photo provided by Whitney Gonzalez.

Luckily, the tires I measured are in excellent condition … maybe because they are those of the 2014 BMW i3 I got to test drive this week ;). I promise, I’ll share details very soon!

When was the last time you inspected your tires? What other car care tips would you like for us to feature? Let us know in the comments below!

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Beltran at 11:30 AM

    Great post!

    I see a lot of people willing to drive long distances in order to save some cents per gallon of gas… but not so many willing to check their tire pressure frequently – which can be equivalent to saving up to ~30 cents per gallon in gas!

    Besides checking them every month, a good rule of thumb is to check the pressure whenever there are abrupt temperature changes,+-20F variations, to keep them in the optimum range

  2. Whitney Gonzalez at 11:48 AM

    That’s great advice. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Noel Leonard at 10:48 AM

    Checking your tires is so important and people often forget about them. Low air pressure and balding tires can lead to serious car accidents. It makes sense to have your tires professionally checked and rotated, too.

  4. Whitney Gonzalez at 10:52 AM

    Thanks for the tip, Noel! I completely agree – tires don’t get as much attention as they deserve.