They’re perfect as swings and great at football practice, but they work best when they’re keeping you moving. What are they? Tires!
Tire Safety and You
In order for your tires to keep you treading along (get it???), you’ll have to keep them properly maintained. Just like you need to get regular oil changes and replace your oil filter, swap out your wiper blades when needed, and set up appointments to get your car checked, staying on a regular tire check schedule is important. Tire safety is a symbiotic relationship. So here’s what you’ll need to do:
One thing you’ll have to do to guarantee proper tire maintenance is to make sure you’re checking the tire pressure monthly. To do this, you’ll need to get a tire pressure gauge to check that they’re inflated to the proper tire PSI (pounds per square inch). You can buy one of these for yourself (recommended) or use the one on the gas station air pump (less recommended). To find out what your tire pressure should be, check your owner manual or the sticker on the inside of your driver side door for the correct PSI level. Remove the cap from the tire valve stem on your wheel and put the pressure gauge on it. You’ll hear a hiss and then, bam, you’ll be able to see your tire inflation level reading.
If you’re lucky, your car might have a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) feature that will automatically tell you where your tire pressure is or if they’re starting to run flat.
Checking your tire pressure is gonna be even more important when the weather is cold. The colder it is, the more your PSI/inflation level drops. Keep that tire inflation on fleek, fam. You wanna make sure you’re gonna be safe when that snow starts falling.
Pro tip: Make sure you also check the air pressure and tread of the spare tire in your trunk. If you get a flat and have to change use your spare, you want to make sure it’s ready to go.
While you’re checking the pressure, be sure to give your tire a visual inspection. Look for foreign objects or anything that appears to be damaged.
You’ll also have to check in with the mechanic every once in awhile. You should get a tire rotation every 6,000 miles. You should also get an alignment every 12,000 miles. So basically, every other tire rotation you get, you should also get an alignment for your vehicle. This is to make sure one of your tires doesn’t go rogue and wear down the tread faster than the others – you want dat uniform tire treadwear. This will help you avoid getting a flat and/or having a blowout (which can be super scary if you’re driving at a decent speed).
Tire care should definitely be high on your list of vehicle maintenance priorities, hanging somewhere near tree-shaped air freshener upkeep and buying gas. Following these tips should keep you safe, but sometimes accidents still happen. Make sure your tire safety kit is in your trunk, which includes: spare tire, jack, and lug nut wrench. This way you’ll have peace of mind that you’re ready for whatever the road can throw at you.
How to Change a Flat Tire
If you ever find yourself with a flat tire, you’ll need to learn how to change flats and put on that spare hiding in the trunk of your car. It’s a good idea to double check your car ahead of time and make sure you have all of the necessary tools on hand like a spare tire, lug nut wrench, etc. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change a flat tire:
- Pull over in a safe place: make sure you’re out of the way of any incoming traffic, and not parked too closely to moving cars on the highway. If you can’t find a secure place to pull over or you feel unsafe, call roadside assistance instead and get yourself a tow truck.
- Turn on your hazard lights: this will let any oncoming traffic know that you’re stopped and to slow down and be careful passing you.
- Throw up that parking brake: sometimes your regular brakes just won’t cut it. Pull up your parking brake to ensure your car doesn’t go rolling away while you’re working on it. You can also slide some wheel wedges under the vehicle’s tires for additional security.
- Remove the hubcap/wheel cover if you have one: if you have a hubcap, this is the part of your wheel that covers the lug nuts. Pop that baby off (the hubcap, not an actual baby) and set it safely aside.
- Loosen the lug nuts: there should be a lug nut wrench, also known as a tire iron, in your car along with the spare tire and car jack. If you don’t know where these items are stored, check your car manual. Loosen the lug nuts with the wrench, but don’t remove them completely just yet. When loosening the lug nuts remember: lefty (counterclockwise) loosy, righty (clockwise) tighty. That’s that best way to remember the rotation direction.
- Jack your car up: there should be a car jack in your trunk along with the spare tire and wrench. Place the spare tire jack under the car frame of the car next to the flat tire. There should be a metal ridge along the frame that can securely rest in the jack. Pump your car up until it’s about 6 inches off the ground. Please don’t place any part of your body under the car while it’s raised up.
- Finish removing the lug nuts: go ahead and remove the lug nuts the rest of the way and set them safely aside so they don’t get lost.
- Remove the flat tire: pull that guy off and throw him in the trunk where he belongs for abandoning you when you needed him most.
- Put on the spare tire: screw the lug nuts on by hand until they’re as tight as you can get them
- Lower the vehicle a little: you want the tire touching the ground so you can tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way, but not completely resting on it.
- Tighten lug nuts again: use the wrench this time. You want them securely tightened.
- Lower the car completely and remove the jack: you’ll want to tighten the lug nuts one final time using the wrench.
- Check the tire pressure of the spare: make sure the car tire pressure is high enough to get you where you’re going.
- Take your car to a mechanic: you’re going to need to get the flat tire replaced. Spares aren’t meant to be a permanent solution.