The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects 43.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend. With approximately 90 percent of those travelers planning to travel by automobile, this holiday season is bound to be a busy one on America’s roadways. With this, Cooper Tire recommends drivers get a head start on holiday travel before hitting the road by using the approaching season as a reminder to engage in routine tire maintenance. "Tires are the only part of the vehicle connecting drivers and their friends and families to the road during holiday travel," said Johnny Unser, Technical Consultant for Cooper Tire. "It is important to think ahead and be prepared before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins by taking a few key steps to make sure tires are in good condition." Ongoing maintenance becomes even more critical as the Rubber Manufacturers Association indicates that 11% – or about 28 million vehicles – have at least one bald tire, and 55% of vehicles have at least one underinflated tire. Cooper Tire advises drivers to conduct the following do-it-yourself maintenance checks before family road trips this holiday season: Examine tread: A tire’s tread should be checked for overall tread depth and uneven wear, as it is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking.
- A tire's minimum tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Drivers can check tread depth by using a U.S. penny. Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of Lincoln's head is covered by tread that means there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and it's time to replace it. For winter driving in adverse conditions, your tires should exceed the minimum tread depth standard.
- While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires, and if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure, or air loss may occur.
- Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle's tires. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality, it is the maximum pressure.
- Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool, meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile.
- Should any of these checks reveal the need for required maintenance – or when in doubt about the condition of their tires – drivers should take vehicles to a tire dealer for a professional inspection.