Rain is on its way, is your vehicle ready?

Remnants of Typhoon Melor are heading our way and are expected to ring high winds and heavy rain late Monday through Wednesday, with the worst of it on Tuesday. I’ve heard the storm may be strong enough to warrant small stream, flood and mudslide advisories. Please, please, please check out your tires this weekend. Make sure the tread is still good and they are inflated with the proper amount of air. Driving on tires unfit for road use can spell disaster. Those that are under inflated can lead to a blowout, while those that don’t have sufficient tread will be unable to grip the road and lead to slipping and sliding. Both scenarios could leave you stranded on the side of the road or cause a traffic collision. During my ride along Wednesday with the California Highway Patrol, we spotted a motorist driving southbound on Highway 17 through Scotts Valley with a dangerously low rear left tire. She was almost riding on her rim as she drove to a doctor appointment with her pre-teen daughter in the back seat. I shudder to think what would have happened had that tire blown out on those curves. When Officer Sarah Jackson stopped the woman and alerted her to the dangerous tire, the driver was astonished. At the very least, I try to make it a point to walk around my car and visually inspect my tires each time I fuel up at the gas station, which has a handy air station nearby. Below is information on tire care, as well as some wet weather driving tips from the CHP. Tire tips and factoids
  • Tires must be replaced when your tread is down to 1/16 of an inch to help prevent skidding and hydroplaning. Grab a penny and test your treadwear by placing it in the grove of your tires. If part of Honest Abe’s head is hidden, you’re good to go. If you can see his entire head, you’ve got bad tread and should go buy new tires as soon as possible.
  • Another way to tell if you need new tires is by checking the built in treadwear indicators, or “wear bars,” which appear as smooth rubber across the tread. They appear when your tread is worn down to 1/16th of an inch. When you see them, it’s time for new tires.
  • Make sure to check your tires for uneven wear. If you have high and low areas or unusually smooth areas, drop by your tire shop as soon as possible.
  • Having the proper amount of air inside your tires is just as important as having the appropriate amount of tread on the outside. Accurate tire pressure and maintenance increases vehicle safety, gas mileage, steering ability, tire life, as well as prevents blowouts and reduces harmful emissions.
  • Each year, under-inflated tires contribute to 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Rotating your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles will ensure each tire is getting equal wear, thus increasing their life and safety.
  • The recommended inflation pressure is located in your vehicle manual, not on the outside of the tire. The number on your tire refers to the “maximum permissible” inflation pressure.
  • The best time to check for air pressure is when the tire is cold and has not been driven in at least three hours.
  • Tires can lose one pound per square inch for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. For safety’s sake, check your tire pressure once a month.
Learn more about tire care and disposal at www.betirespart.org and www.zerowaste.ca.gov. For information on how to handle yourself if your tire blows out while you’re on the road, visit www.safety.com. Wet weather driving tips
  • Make sure your windshield wipers in good condition, not dry, cracked, or missing.
  • Keep a full tank of gas in your vehicle to avoid running out of fuel.
  • Drive with your headlights on.
  • Use gentle brake application to avoid hydroplaning.
  • Conditions may warrant traveling slower than the posted maximum speed limit.
  • Increase your following distance.
Read more about wet weather driving on www.chp.ca.gov or www.dmv.ca.gov. Also check out, http://www.aaapublicaffairs.com/Assets/Files/200711281243450.GetaGrip.pdf.
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