As a busy mom, you may feel like you spend more time in your vehicle than at home. From taking your kids to school and extracurricular activities to play dates and recitals, you definitely rack up some serious miles.
Of course, all of this driving will no doubt put some serious wear and tear on your car, including key parts like the tires. To help your vehicle stay as safe as possible, it’s important to learn all you can about tire maintenance and purchasing new tires. With that in mind, check out the following tips:
Learn to Check the Treads
Just like the soles on your shoes can wear down after miles of walking, so can the treads on your car’s “shoes.” To ensure your tires are safe to drive on, it’s important to learn how to check the treads. According to Consumer Reports, tire treads are considered worn when the tread depth is about 2/32 of an inch. An easy way to check this is by taking a penny and sticking it upside down into the treads of your tires; if you cannot see Abe Lincoln’s head, your treads likely don’t need replacing.
However, if you can clearly see Honest Abe’s noggin, then your tire treads are worn and likely should be replaced as soon as possible. Ideally, you shouldn’t wait until your treads are bald to buy new tires.
As an alternative to checking your tires’ tread depth, use a quarter and the top of George Washington’s head as a guide; if you can see his head, your tires have 4/32 of an inch of tread left. While this measurement still indicates the treads are low and your tires need replacing, it’s not quite as dire as the penny test would indicate.
Know the Age of Your Tires
Vehicle manufacturers recommend you replace your tires every six years, even if they appear to be in good condition. Of course, tires will deteriorate over time, especially if you live in a hot climate. But even if your treads look to be in good shape, driving on old tires isn’t recommended.
Fortunately, it’s super easy to check the birthday of your tires. Simply locate the four-digit number that follows the long-tail code beginning with “DOT.” In particular, this four-digit will tell you the week and year each tire was manufactured. For example, if you see “4016” on one or more of your tires, then you know it was manufactured during the 40th week of 2016, or around late September/early October.
In addition to knowing the age of your tires, it’s also important to understand how to find this information on the tires you plan to buy. Of course, it’s possible your local tire shop has old tires in stock, and the last thing you want is to shell out big bucks for four new tires that are already past their prime.
Understand Not All Tires are Created Equal
While you might think you should replace your tires with the existing model on your car, you can often go with other brands that are more budget-friendly, include more safety features and/or have a better warranty. Spend time researching different tire brands and models that are best-suited for your vehicle so you can rest assured knowing you’re getting the right set.
For example, Falken tires are considered to be top-of-the-line, budget-friendly options that are chalk-full of features and which are usually found on more expensive vehicles. In fact, Falken makes a number of tires for a variety of vehicles, including the Sincera SN250 A/S, which features built-in technology that enhances traction in all types of weather.
Beyond offering a quiet ride, these tires offer tension-control technology that improves handling, as well as innovative grooves that channel water away from the treads to prevent hydroplaning.
Hit the Road as Safely as Possible
Because you spend so much time on the road with your kids, it makes perfect sense to learn about basic car and tire maintenance. Instead of leaving tire care and replacement to the pros, empower yourself with as much information and knowledge as you can. Learn to check the health and age of your tires, as well as which tire brands are best suited for your vehicle, and you’ll be able to safely transport your precious cargo wherever they need to go.