By Carl Nadeau, Michelin Driving Expert
When people think about driving, they often think about the car and forget about the tires that connect and transport the vehicle’s performance. There are proactive steps any vehicle owner can take once a month to make sure they are safeguarding themselves from tire related issues. Inspecting your tires is an inexpensive and easy act that could be lifesaving and there are three essential steps to doing it right.
First, start with a visual inspection of your tire. This means checking for uneven wear and no cuts or bulges that could affect your tire’s relationship to the road and consequently, affect your driving in a surprising and unwanted way.
Second, you’re going to convert quintessential pocket change, the trusty Canadian quarter, into a precious tool to help you check tread depth. Holding the quarter between your thumb and forefinger with the quarter’s figurehead pointing downward, find a point on your tire where tread appears the lowest. Insert the quarter with the figurehead first into one of the grooves and if the top of the figurehead is covered by tread, you’re driving with the legal and safe amount of tread. If your tread depth gets below that, your car’s ability to grip the road is substantially reduced. Having the right amount of tread, especially as spring approaches, is essential because drivers are going to be facing more rain and therefore, more risk of hydroplaning.
Third, checking your tire’s pressure is crucial because having your tires inflated to the correct pressure affects their performance and safety. The maximum load of the vehicle is the main factor used in establishing the recommended pressure, but there are many others that are taken into consideration.
Tires have been known to lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure every month. So use a proper pressure gauge to check pressure when tires are ‘cold’ (before driving or three hours after driving). Make sure your tires are inflated to the psi on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your car. This number has been carefully chosen for your vehicle, so respecting it is very important.
Once you’ve taken these measures, you will be better equipped to spring forward this March. However, the changes in temperature and road conditions may still send some unknowns your ways, so here are two additional safety tips to keep in mind:
Slow down to dramatically decrease the risk of accidents in rain.
If hydroplaning, do not accelerate or brake suddenly. Keep your foot lightly on the gas and steer the car forward until your tires regain traction.
For more tips on safe driving, visit http://www.michelin.ca/CA/en/safe-driving/tips.