Avon Heading Off Trouble

In addition to performing regular maintenance, you must also keep an eye out for potential problems that might affect your tires. Regular inspections can help you prevent tire trouble, & keep you rolling safely down the road.

When inspecting your tires, look for:

Uneven tread wear. This can include more wear on one tread edge than the other, a rippled pattern of high & low wear, or exposed steel wire. Uneven wear can be caused by problems such as underinflation, misalignment & improper balancing.

If you detect uneven wear soon enough & have the underlying cause fixed, you may be able to keep using the tire — but have it checked by your tire dealer to be sure.

Shallow tread. Bald tires tend to skid & slide on the pavement, & are more likely to be damaged by potholes & other road hazards. The tread on your tire should be at least 1.16 of an inch deep. If it isn’t, the tire must be replaced. To help you see tread problems, tires have built-in “tread wear indicators.” These are narrow bars of smooth rubber that run across the tread: When the tread is even with the bars, it is worn down to the minimum level & must be replaced immediately.

You can also perform a simple test using a US penny. Put the edge of the coin into the tread, with Lincoln going in head first. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, that’s good. If the top of his head is entirely visible, it’s time to replace the tire.

Troublemakers. Check for small stones, pieces of glass, bits of metal & other foreign objects that might be wedged into the tread, & carefully pick them out. They can cause serious problems if they are pushed farther into your tire as you drive.

Damaged areas. Cracks, cuts, splits, punctures, holes & bulges in the tread or on the sides of the tire can indicate serious problems, & the tire may need to be replaced.

Slow leaks. Tires lose some air pressure (about 2 psi) over the course of a month or so, but if you find that you have to add air every few days, have the tire, wheel & valve checked—& if necessary, repair or replace the tire.

Valve caps. Those little caps on your tire’s valve stem keep moisture & dirt out, so make sure they are on all your tires. Also, when you have a tire replaced, have a new valve stem assembly installed at the same time.

Driving on a damaged tire can be dangerous. If you see something you’re not sure about during your inspection, have it examined by your tire dealer. Any time you see damage to a tire, don’t drive on it—use a spare if you need to go somewhere. And finally, pay attention to the “feel” of your tires as you drive. A rough ride may indicate tire damage or excessive wear. If you notice vibrations or other disturbances while driving, and/or you suspect possible damage to your tire or vehicle, immediately reduce speed, drive with caution until you can safely pull off the road & stop, & inspect your tires. If a tire is damaged, deflate it & replace it with your spare. If you do not see any tire damage & cannot identify the source of the vibration,have the vehicle towed to a mechanic or tire dealer for a thorough inspection.

To help people remember the key points in tire maintenance, the Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends that you “play your PART.”

The Big 4 stands for:

  • PRESSURE
  • ALIGNMENT
  • ROTATION
  • TREAD

Treat Your Tires Right
You may not realize it, but the way you drive can have a lot to do with how long your tires will last & how well they perform. As you head down the road, there are a number of things to keep in mind:

Take it easy. Avoid hard cornering, rapid accelerations & abrupt braking & stopping. They put a lot of stress on your tires. Smooth, safe driving is better for your tires—& for you, too.

Avoid potholes & other hazards. Obviously, it’s best not to hit potholes or objects in the road. But if you can’t avoid them, remember that the faster you are going when you hit something, the greater the impact on your tires—so slow down as much as you can without endangering yourself or others.

If you can’t avoid a pothole, don’t apply the brakes when you hit it. Instead, apply them as you approach the hole, & release them just before striking it. This slows you down, but allows the tire to roll as it hits, softening the impact. If you hit an object or hole, have your tires checked by a professional. Such collisions can cause internal tire damage that you can’t see—but which can cause problems later on. Sometimes, a tire can be severely damaged & travel hundreds or even thousands of miles before failing. A vibration or rough ride may be a sign of such damage—& that it is time for a replacement.

Getting stuck—& unstuck. If you find yourself stuck in snow, ice, mud or wet grass, don’t spin your tires rapidly, & never spin them if a drive wheel is off the ground. Doing so can actually cause a tire to explode & seriously injure someone, because if one drive wheel is stuck, & the other is free to spin, all the engine’s power goes to the free wheel. If you’re in snow, turn off the vehicle, apply the brakes & shovel snow away from the tires & vehicle. Try s& & gravel to get more traction. If that doesn’t work, gently rock the vehicle back & forth using forward & reverse gears. Keep people away from your tires & the vehicle as you rock.

The idea is to accelerate slowly; never exceed 35 mph on your speedometer. (Note: Check your owner’s manual to be sure that rocking is appropriate for your vehicle. Also, if you have anti-lock brakes, follow the manual’s instructions for this procedure.)

Traction tips. In rainy or snowy weather, some drivers might let a little air out of their tires, thinking it will give them more traction. That’s a very bad idea. In reality, it actually reduces traction. It also impairs your ability to control the vehicle, increases the possibility of tire failure due to underinflation, & increases tire wear.

Watch out for overloading. Driving on an overloaded tire is hazardous. When your car is carrying too much, the weight can create excessive heat inside your tires—& that can cause sudden tire failure. Never exceed the maximum load rating of your tires, which you can find on the sidewall of the tire, in the owner’s manual or on the vehicle placard. When you replace a tire, make sure the new one has a load-carrying capacity equal to or greater than the tires that originally came with your vehicle.

It’s also important to treat your tires right when you’re not using them. If you store tires, keep them in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight, heat & ozone. Allow air to circulate around all sides to avoid moisture damage. Keep tires away from grease, gasoline & other substances that can deteriorate the rubber. Store them upright if you can, but if you have to stack tires on their sides, be careful not to pile them too high: The weight of the stack could deform & damage the bottom tires, rendering them unusable.

If you need to get a new tire, make sure you’re getting the right one. As a rule, all four tires should be the same size, have the same speed rating & load index, & be the same construction type (radial or non-radial). But there are exceptions. The vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations or your tire dealer can help you determine which tires are right for your car & your specific driving needs.