IT'S ROAD TRIP TIME!! Whoo Hoo, now that it is summer.... Wait..... Your car tires are where the rubber meets the road on your car. If you don't properly care for them the only trip you will take is to the tire shop. Follow these four steps and you will save money, gas, and avoid premature replacements or roadside emergencies. Remember to "RRCR".

### RECORD YOUR TIRE DATA AND PUT IT WITH YOUR OWNERS MANUAL.

All tires have this code on the sidewall and you need to know what it means. Look for an imprinted number that starts with a "P", "LT", or "T". It will follow the manufacturer brand and look like P235/75/R15. The first letter, P in this case, tells what type of tire this is. P = Passenger, LT = Light Truck, T = Temporary or Spare tire. If your tire has a "T" on it you want to be very careful. Those tires are meant to drive slowly, under fifty miles per hour, and for short distances.

The first number on the tires sidewall (235) is the metric width (in millimeters) of the tread surface.

The second number is the aspect ratio of the sidewall as a percentage of the tread width. So, the 75 in our example means that the sidewall height of this tire is 75 percent of the 235. By doing the math we now know that 176.25 millimeters is the sidewall height for this tire.

After the second number a letter tells you what kind of tire you have. The "R" means our tire is a radial. Virtually all modern tires are radials. But you could conceivably find tires with a "D" for bias ply construction or even the very old school "B" for belted tires.

The last number is the rim diameter in inches. In this case it's a fifteen inch rim.

If you have a high performance car then note that the speed rating normally follows immediatly after the sizing code. Normally you don't need to worry about it since passenger cars are fitted with OEM tires that exceed the cars maximum speed. But, if you want specifics you can check it out at wikipedia.

Keep this information handy so that if you visit a local tire dealer or discount tire shop you will be able to tell them what you need and verify for yourself what you bought. Don't mix and match sizes unless you are in an true blue emergency. Doing so can foul up your speedometer, put excess wear on the drivetrain, and cause suspension issues.

### ROTATE YOUR TIRES ACCORDING TO THE DEALER SPECS.

Your cars tires will slowly wear out. And, because each tire is slightly different, they will wear slightly differently. To equalize the wear you will need to rotate them on a regular basis. My tires get rotated every 6000 miles and the tire rotation pattern goes back to front and opposing sides. What I do, per the automakers recommendation is move the rear tires straight forward and put the front tires on the back. Note that the tires going from front to rear also go on opposite sides. Your left front tire will become the right rear tire. Your vehicle owners manual will tell you the exact interval and rotation pattern for your specific car.

Checking your wheels and tires is very important. While you are fueling up or cleaning off the road grime, get in the habit of a regular inspection.

Check is your tire pressure weekly while they are cold. Tire pressure data is normally on a sticker on the jamb for the drivers door. If you under or over inflate you can look forward to premature wear/premature replacement and premature money out the window. Proper inflation will increases gas mileage also. You can get an inexpensive tire pressure gage at any auto parts store. Or you can get a valve cap designed to show a certain color when your tire pressure is low.

Check is your tread wear on a monthly basis. You want to make sure that the tire is wearing across the tread evenly from side to side. If your tires show more wear in a certain part of the surface go to a reputable auto shop and get it fixed. Tread wear patterns can indicate over or under inflation, a front end out of alignment, or even a suspension problem.

Oh, by the way; Do not use silicone based cleaners on your tires. It will degrade the rubber.

### REPLACE YOUR TIRES WHEN IT'S TIME TO DO SO.

No matter how well you take care of your automobile tires, there comes a time when replacement is a must. The most common reason for replacment of tires is overly worn tread. Most tire manufacturers recommend replacement when the average tread depth is less than 1/8th of an inch. You can buy inexpensive tread depth gages from any auto store. Or, measure it with an older nickle. The presidential nose is and eighth inch from the edge. No nose? No worries. Got nose? Got a problem.
 THIS IS WHAT SEVERE TIRE FAILURE LOOKS LIKE. THIS WILL RUIN YOUR ROAD TRIP.

Most tires also have a built in wear indicator. If you can see a straight line running from side to side on the tread surface, your tire needs to be replaced. Wear indicators are easily seen if you follow the car as it moves down the road.

The second most common reason to replace a tire is punctures. Most times a puncture in the tread is fixable. Any cuts or punctures in the tire sidewall are dangerous and must be replaced immediately.

When you go to the tire dealer, get out the info you had in the recording step. Be sure that you buy tires in sets of two at a minimum. Those two become your driving tires. Then the best two of the old tires go on the non-driving axle. This puts the greatest amount of traction where it is needed most.

If you follow each of these tips and incorporate them into your car car regimen you will save time, gas, and money. I appreciate your time reading this and hope you found it helpful. Thanks.