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Safe Tires

As a dad, you are expected to know everything about the car, but over the past two months I've discovered that while I appreciate tires ... sometimes you can still be surprised. 

tire pressure light

This is What Your Low Tire Pressure Light Looks Like ...

A few weeks ago, while driving around my wife tells me that the "check engine" light came on. Immediately I groaned - seeing only dollar signs.

Then I realized that it was a light that I hadn't seen before, while it wasn't the check engine warning it was still pretty ominous. After looking it up, I discovered that it was a tire pressure warning so we pulled over and looked at the tires visually and saw no immediate issue and simply chalked it up to a false positive.

At our next oil change we mentioned it and sure enough ... somehow the pressure was low and the sensor was able to detect it (and we were able to fix it) before there was any damage.

Low Pressure Can Lead to Unsafe Handling, Tire Lifespan, and Higher Fuel Costs

Not only can under-inflated tires cause you to be three times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to properly inflated ones, but they can also wear faster and potentially overheat at high speeds.

While not a safety concern, proper tire pressure can also ensure that you get the maximum miles per gallon from your car. That, combined with longer tire life can save you a ton of money over the life of the tires.

tire nail

Tire Damage Can Happen Anywhere

The tires above are from a nearly brand new, fresh off the line Toyota Tacoma that I was driving around San Antonio earlier this year. While I was tempted to take the truck off-road to see what she could do, I didn't want to risk any damage to the tires. However, after coming out of the factory tour we discovered that the tire was making noise.

Somehow, we got a nail through the tire in the parking lot of the factory!

I think that proves that you need to always be diligent and aware of your tires to ensure that they are in proper working order.

What Tools Do You Need To Ensure Safe Tires

Every car should have a safety and first aid kit with basic supplies to keep for emergencies. Essential items to bundle there include:

Tire pressure gauge - while your TPMS or Tire Pressure Monitoring System will alert you when the tires are low, you'll want a backup that tells you when they are properly inflated too.

Portable air compressor - if you are doing long road trips regularly, or live in a remote area then this is essential. 

Tire tread depth gauge - this will help you monitor your tires as they wear so that you can take them in when they need to be replaced.


Ask Your Dad - or Someone Else's For Training

New drivers can't be expected to know everything. In today's society, there are too many things that are outsourced and things like checking the tires or oil are often ignored because "they'll be checked during the oil change". While it's good to "have a guy" that you trust ... there's a lot of miles between oil changes and anything can happen.

Keep Your Ears and Eyes Open

With that proper training on what to look for, now it's time for you to keep your eyes and ears open. Do you hear a weird vibration or a clicking noise? Check those tires and see what it might be.

Don't just assume that things will go away, after all - your life may depend on those 5 minutes it would take to examine your tires for improper inflation or abnormal wear.