April is National Car Care Month and every car owner should give their vehicle a little tender loving care to prevent major problems. Maintaining optimal tire performance is particularly important for your car; tires affect your vehicle’s braking, handling, and safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated one in ten car crashes are tire-related. Fortunately, vehicle owners can avoid most tire-related accidents with some preventative measures.
Tire Inspection: Give your wheels a visual inspection on a regular basis to check for wear, tears, holes, and other signs of damage. If you notice your car pulling to one side while driving at a steady speed, your tires could be damaged or need inflation. Avoid driving too fast, or stopping and starting suddenly as this wears tires down faster.
Rotation and Alignment: Have your car’s alignment checked at least once a year, and rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles so that tires wear evenly. Uneven tire wear can affect the wear on your car’s shock absorbers and impact vehicle performance.
Tire Pressure: Check tire pressure at least once a month with a tire gauge. Good tire pressure helps tires last longer and saves money on gas—proper tire inflation improves gas mileage by about 3%. The wheels should be cool when you check the pressure. Consult the owner’s manual to know your car’s optimal inflation level, overinflated tires could be just as dangerous as underinflated ones.
Tread: Tire tread helps your car maintain traction on the road, and over time, the tread gradually wears down. Regularly monitor tire tread by inserting a quarter (with the top of Washington’s head facing in) into the tread groove. If the tire tread covers the top of Washington’s head, then your tires are safe for use.
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Car owners can find auto repair and alignment shops in their area through Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of businesses. RLP is useful for finding a variety of businesses, from roofing experts and electricians, to hotels and physicians. Visit the RLP website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, and enter your location. Enter search terms into the search box on the home page, or choose a term from the popular categories list. The results page will show a list of businesses matching your search terms, along with the address and phone of each business.