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How to Properly Check Tire Pressure and Condition for Safety

Tire pressure and condition is one of the most overlooked safety aspects on our cars. Most people just assume their tires are fine and that they will be safe because they look okay - the tires are not flat. Rarely do we ever see someone get out a tire pressure gauge and check their tire pressure or place their hands on the tire and feel for roundness and irregularities. What most people don't know is that proper tire pressure will improve your gas mileage, make your brakes and suspension system last longer, and it will improve your gas mileage. According to AAA, it is ideal to have your tires pressure and condition checked for safety every time you fill up your gas tank and prior to any long drives or vacations.

Before checking your tire pressure you should check your tires condition. Your tires are what holds you to the road and if there are any irregular wear patterns, bubbles and cracks, etc your safety can be greatly compromised. Look over all your tires. Place the palm of your hand on the tire and feel it is it round? This may sound obvious, but you can quickly find early signs of cupping (which can indicate bad struts), irregular wear (could be improperly balanced wheels), cracks, and deep wear that would make your tires unsafe.

Take out a penny and make sure Lincolns head is buried in the tread. If it isn't that means you need to replace your tires. Every time I go to the local grocery store half of the cars I see have bald or nearly bald tires and tires in bad condition.

This can cause hydroplaning and very unsafe conditions if the roads were wet from a recent rain. If you notice anything irregular take your car to a service station. Have your tire condition checked and have your tires replaced as necessary as your safety may be compromised by worn tires or another tire condition (Walmart's service stations will check your tires for free). To properly check your tires pressure you must use a tire pressure gauge.

Going by look or feel isn't good enough. Just because the tire doesn't look flat doesn't mean you didn't over or under inflate it. Your car or trucks owners manual will tell you the recommended tire pressure for your tires. Check all four tires and your spare.

You wouldn't believe the number of people that assume their spare is fine and haven't checked it in 3 or more years. Some don't even know if they have a spare or tire changing tools. Some people don't even know where to look for their spare tire or how to change a tire. Most tire pressure gauges have an indicator that will be pushed out by the amount of pressure in your tire. More expensive ones are digital.

Both are rudimentary and easy to use. If you find you are under inflated most gas stations have an air pump. Fill and check again to ensure proper pressure. Always replace the caps when you are done.

This keeps the elements out and corrosion can and does cause leaks. If you have too much pressure then let some out by pressing a key or screwdriver into the release valve and then check it again. If your tires have too much pressure it can cause them to prematurely wear in the middle and reduce the actual area of the tire that meets the road and can reduce your safety. There you have it, how to properly check your tires condition and pressure for safety.

By having safe tires you are increasing both your safety and the safety of those around you.

David Maillie is an alumni of Cornell University and specializes in automotive safety products and information. He holds numerous patents and awards for his patented headlight cleaner and restorer. For more information please visit:

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