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As we’re coming off of National Tire Safety Week, and heading into the summer road trip season, we’d like to take a closer look where the rubber literally meets the road. Tires are extremely important to a number of factors related to your car: The way it rides, the way it handles and gas mileage, to name a few. But the main focus of this article is the most important – safety.

Your tires are the only part of your car that are in contact with the road below. So, it’s very important for them to be in good condition, and that you maintain them properly before setting out on your summer road trips. Tires help you stop, change direction, absorb bumps in the road and support the weight of the entire vehicle. In one way or another, your tires are related to everything your car does. Here’s a list of tips from the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association on what to look for and how to properly check to make sure your tires are road-trip ready.

Check Tire Pressure

You should always check your tire pressure when your tires are cold. As you drive, your tires heat up and expand the pressure, which can give you a false reading. To get the proper inflation pressure, don’t look on the tire’s sidewall. That’s the maximum inflation pressure. Instead look at the label on the inside of the driver’s side door or refer to your owner’s manual. Underinflated tires lead to decreased handling ability, increased and inconsistent tire wear, and in cases where tires are 25 percent underinflated, even tire failure. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that vehicles with tires underinflated by 25% or more are three times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Check Tire Tread

You should also check the tread life on your tires before leaving for a long trip. There’s an old, very inexpensive do-it-yourself test you can use to see if your tread is too worn. It’s called the penny test. You simply take a penny, turn it upside down, and place the penny in the tread groove. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is too worn, and it’s time for new tires.

Check Your Spare

You should also check your spare tire before getting on the road. Many people check the four tires currently in use on their vehicles, but neglect to check the tire pressure in their spare. On a lot of vehicles, the spare isn’t easy to reach, or is stored out of the way, which makes it inconvenient. However, often times spare tires go years without being needed and gradually can lose air pressure over time. Should you be out in the middle of nowhere and have a flat, you’ll definitely be glad you took the extra few minutes it takes to ensure that your spare is properly inflated, and up to the task of getting you and your family safely down the road.

So, that’s it. Do a routine check of your tires, and of course make sure your oil is fresh and your fluids are topped off, and you’re ready to set out on a safe and exciting summer adventure. With just a few minutes of your time, you can improve your chances of getting there and back without incident and, more importantly, without putting yourself at a higher risk of being in an accident. As always, if somebody happens to run into you, Caliber will get you back on the road and back to the rhythm of your life ASAP

Oh there is one last important thing to do before you leave on a road trip – don’t forget to put a road trip playlist together. After all, isn’t that half the fun?