How to Be a Better Driver

Failure to Maintain Tires

When was the last time you checked the air pressure or tread of your tires? If you're like most of us, other than eyeballing them occasionally, probably never. Such neglect results in more than one-quarter of cars being driven with at least one substantially underinflated tire and nine percent with at least one bald tire. Improper inflation and worn treads lead to blowouts, tread separation, and crashes.

What to do

Purchase a tire gauge (it costs about a dollar and is small enough to keep in the glove compartment) and check tire pressure monthly and before any long trip. Inflate your tires to the amount recommended in your car manual or on the sticker on your doorjamb. Don't rely on the pressure indicator on air pumps at service stations, as many are inaccurate. To examine the tread, look for the tire's built-in treadwear indicator, which looks like raised bumps spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tire's grooves. If the bumps are even with the outside of the tread, it's time for new tires. Or, try the penny check: Insert a penny into the tread vertically, with Lincoln's head down. If you can still see the top of his head, you need to replace your tires. Be sure to rotate tires every 6,000 to 7,000 miles for even wear.

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