Check Your Vehicle’s Tires Before Long Road Trips this Summer

Summer is officially here and that means it’s time for swimming, barbequing, and long nights sitting in front of fans in an attempt to stay cool. For many families this time of the year also means it is time for a summer road trip. As most of us know road trips take a lot of planning and preparation. But all too often one very important aspect of the road trip is overlooked: your car’s tires. You certainly won’t be going anywhere without your tires and the high temperatures associated with summer can have an effect on the performance of your tires. That is why it is so important to check the state of your tires before you leave for any long road trips. Before you go out on your summer road trip make sure to check up on a few things to ensure that your tires will work properly:

Check Your Tires’ Treads
You can check the treads on your tires by giving them the penny test. The penny test is a simple do-it-yourself test that will tell you if your tires are roadworthy or not. To perform this test: stick a penny between several of the treads on your tires and make sure that the treads cover at least a part of Lincoln’s head. If the tread does cover at least part of Lincoln’s head then your tires are road worthy.

Just like cold winter temperatures affect roads, hot summer temperatures can also cause stress on pavement. This heat increases the pavement’s temperature which can cause cracks in your tires and cracks in the road. Both of these conditions, coupled with the extended distances travelled during road trips, can lead to an increase in wear and tear in your tires or worse, a blown out tire.

Check Your Tires’ Pressure
An equally important thing to check up on when checking the status of you vehicle’s tires is the pressure. This can be done by either a professional or yourself. To check the tire pressure yourself, first you will need a hand held pressure gauge that can be bought at most auto repair or hardware stores. Once you have your handheld gauge you simply remove the cap off of the tire’s air valve stem cap, and press the gauge over the stem to read the tire’s pressure. To make sure your tire’s pressure is at or around the correct pressure, you should reference your owner’s manual, which will have the recommended tire pressure within it.

Temperature can have a huge effect on the pressure in your tires. In the winter, cold temperatures can cause your tires to deflate; but in the summer, the heat can increase the pressure in your tires. This increase in pressure will overinflate your tires and they will not have as much contact with the road, which may lead to bumpier ride. Or the increase in pressure could lead to a blown out tire.

Have a Backup Plan
Even if you check your tire treads and pressure, accidents can happen and you may find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire. If this happens are you prepared?

Before you go on a road trip this summer make sure that you have a spare tire. Some cars come with a spare tire, but to make sure that your vehicle has a spare tire, refer your owner’s manual. It is also important to note what kind of spare tire you have, too. A full spare tire can replace your existing tire and can be driven on for longer periods of time. A “donut” type of spare tire is typically smaller than a regular tire and is not meant to be driven long distances. It is important to remember that replacing a flat tire with a spare tire is only a temporary measure and you should eventually replace the spare with a normal tire.

But having a replacement tire is not enough in the case of an emergency; you must also have the tools necessary to replace it with. In some cases your car may come with the tools necessary to change a tire, but it is important to check to make sure that you have the necessary tools. The tools that are most commonly used to change a tire are a jack and a lug wrench, but different vehicle makes and models can require different tools so it is important to check your owner’s manual to make sure that you have the tools necessary to change a tire.

Many times in the hectic preparation for a summer road trip many people forget to make sure that their tires will work properly, or if they are prepared for a blown out tire. This is a mistake, and a blown out tire is the fastest way to end a road trip. Make sure to check your vehicle before you head out on a summer road trip, or you could end up sweating on the side of the road instead of on the side of a pool.