Tire Safety Tips - Angieslist

One of the biggest safety features on your car is where the rubber meets the road, literally. Neglecting your tires is a safety hazard – period.

Angie’s List, the nation’s premiere provider of consumer reviews on local service companies, asked its highly rated auto service experts for advice on keeping your tires rolling safely.

  • Tire pressure: Tire pressure is key to safety on the road. If there’s not enough air pressure, you could blow a tire going down the road. Have your tires checked at an auto service shop or you can do it yourself with a tire pressure gauge and an air pump available at many gas stations.
  • Tire tread: The tread on your tires gives your vehicle the traction it needs to navigate safely through virtually any weather conditions. Here’s a quick test that can help you figure out whether it’s time to visit the tire shop: Take a penny, with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. Place it in the tread of the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to see a tire specialist and get new tires.
  • Tire rotation: Rotating tires every 6,000 miles helps them last longer and keeps the tread from wearing out in spots. There are different methods and patterns of rotating tires depending on the type of car and whether it is front wheel drive, rear wheel drive of all wheel drive. The owner’s manual will spell that out for you.
  • Tire code: The string of letters and numbers you see on the side of your tires can tell you a lot about them.This is important, because the wrong tires on your car could be a safety hazard and affect other areas of the vehicle, like the suspension.

Look on the side of the tire and you may see something like P205/70R15. Here’s what that means:

  • “P” stands for passenger. If you see “LT”, that stands for light truck. This is important, because the wrong tires on your car could be a safety hazard and affect other areas of the vehicle, like the suspension.
  • 205 is the width of the tire in millimeters.
  • 70 refers to how tall the tire is compared to how wide it is. In this example, the tire height is approximately 70 percent of the width of the tire.
  • R stands for radial. Radial tires have a series of strong fabric layers called cords or plies under the rubber. Most tires these days are radial construction, but you may see B for bias-belted or D for diagonal or bias ply.
  • 15 represents the rim diameter in inches.

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