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Check Your Tires!

Here’s an interesting vid on tires. It shows how new but aged tires can still be very dangerous. Despite that, unused aged tires are sold without warning. I think they were able to find a 12 year old tire for sale as new. The vid also goes into how to determine a tire’s age. I don’t really know how critical tire age is, but they do show some tests of new, aged tires exploding. Personally, I want to see more rigorous testing. My gut feeling is that it’s age combined with improper tire pressure, rather than just age itself, but who knows?

While we’re at it, I’ll mention how to properly inflate your tires, since I’ve come across a number of people who either had no idea or had erroneous ideas about tire pressure. The PSI rating on your tire is *NOT* to what you should set your tire pressure. It is exactly that: the maximum PSI the tire can safely handle.  You can put in a whole lot of air/water/etc into a balloon, but if you put in too much, you can’t squeeze it too hard without it bursting.  In a similar sense, different cars weigh differently, so the amount of needed air in your tires also changes. I think it’s the inverse though, as car weight increases, needed tire pressure also increases. That way the proper amount of tire tread contacts the ground. Not that your tires would actually burst like a balloon, but you would be putting unneeded stress on the tire, lowering its handling performance (yeah, stopping and turning, they’re important), and probably its lifespan. So basically, you do get some fuel efficiency, 5% if you’re lucky, in exchange for less safety. Huzzuh!

Anyway, you can find the proper inflation information on your door frame.  I forget if it’s driver or passenger side, though. Basically, open the door, and on the frame adjacent to the seatbelts, there should be a sticker with all the needed tire stats. As far as I know, all modern cars have that sticker. If it’s not on there, check the manual.

I think a majority of people simply view their car as a commoditized people mover, which is mainly true, and neglect maintenance. But it hasn’t quite gotten to the state of, say, a Nintendo Wii that you just buy and forget about.  It still needs some maintenance. A little bit of relatively cheap oil will save you from a multi-thousand dollar total engine rebuild. Same goes with coolant. Skimping on that shit is false economy.

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