Falling leaves may mean the end of summer, but a change of season doesn't mean you should change good habits when it comes to taking proper care of your tires, says the Tire Industry Safety Council.
"When outside temperatures begin to drop, tires should be checked at least once a month because cold weather reduces your tire's inflation pressure," says Council Chairman Donald B. Shea. "Driving on underinflated tires causes tire tread to wear faster and unevenly."
"Underinflated tires also reduce ride performance, affect vehicle handling, and decrease your vehicle's fuel efficiency," Shea adds. A tire is considered significantly underinflated when it is four or more pounds below the recommended air pressure.
Another good habit to continue in the fall, according to Shea, is to check your tires for uneven wear patterns. "Uneven wear may signal improper inflation pressures, misalignment, tire and wheel imbalance or suspension problems," Shea explains.
Misalignment in the front or rear end of your car, and mechanical problems such as improperly operating brakes or shock absorbers, bent wheels or sprung axle housings, can all cause uneven treadwear. "All these systems should be checked periodically by a qualified mechanic as specified by the vehicle owner's manual or whenever you have any indication of trouble," Shea says.
Irregular tire wear can often be corrected by rotating your tires. Check your car owner's manual or consult the tire manufacturer for the appropriate rotation pattern for your vehicle. After rotation, adjust each tire's air pressure to the appropriate level for its new location, as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
"Your tires were designed to give you many thousands of miles of excellent service. But you must take good care of them in order to get optimum mileage," Shea says.
The Council is stressing the benefits of regular tire inspection as part of its observance of National Car Care Month. Sponsored by the Car Care Council, a coalition of public and private sector interests, The national Car Care Month campaign is aimed at encouraging vehicle owners to have their vehicles periodically inspected and properly maintained. The Council offers these Fall-driving tips: