Presidents’ Day is a good time for a tire test with help from George Washington

Use President’s Day as a reminder to perform two simple but effective safety checks on your vehicle’s tires – George Washington can help you with one of those checks. Worn tires can send a car into dangerous skids and spins on wet and icy winter roads. Checking tire pressure and tread depth monthly can help motorists keep tires in optimal condition, according to AAA Kansas.

“The two most important tire safety checks – a pressure reading and tread depth measurement – are very simple to do,” according to Shawn Steward, public affairs manager for AAA Kansas. “If motorists spend about two minutes on each tire, they will keep their tires at peak performance.”

Monthly tire checks take two steps:

Measure tread depth with a quarter rather than a penny. When the top of Washington’s head is exposed, the tread depth is 4/32″ or less, and it’s time to start shopping for new tires.

Use a quality gauge to check tire pressure. For proper results, make sure tires are cold. Look for the recommended air pressure in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or on the tire information decal located inside the driver’s side door or in the glove compartment. The number molded into the tire sidewall is not recommended for normal operating condition; this specification is for a tire that is carrying its maximum rated payload.

“Worn tires should be replaced immediately because they significantly impact safety,” says AAA Kansas’ Steward. “Testing has shown that tires with only half of their tread depth can take up 6 feet longer to stop from 40 miles-per-hour on a wet surface, even with the antilock braking system engaged.”

AAA reminds motorists not to forget to also periodically check the air in your spare tire, at least once a month so it’s road ready in case of an emergency.

AAA Kansas offers the following maintenance tips to extend the life of your tires:

Recognize Noises/Vibrations – February is POTHOLE season! A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage a tire or wheel, and bend or even break suspension components. Any new or unusual noises or vibrations that appear after hitting a pothole should be inspected immediately by a certified technician.

Alignment – Check the alignment every six months. Potholes and road imperfections can cause alignment adjustments to change. Large potholes are also known for damaging tires and rims.

Rotation – A four-wheel tire rotation is recommended by most tire manufacturers after every 6,000 miles. Rotating tires every other oil change is an easy way to keep track of this service.

Inspection – Inspect tires when checking tire pressure. Inspect tire tread for wear, damage, or heavy cracking. Inspect sidewalls for cracks, cuts, bulges, bubbles, and slices. Any damage to the sidewall would render the tire unsafe. Blemishes from tire manufacturing, one or more indentations in the sidewall from tire assembly, or scrapes/bruises from light curb rubs are not major issues. Have any noticeable damage to the tire inspected by a trained professional as soon as possible.