Make us your home page
Autos | Tires

Four simple checks will keep your car's tires in good shape

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, underinflated tires are responsible for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year. A simple, easy-to-perform, monthly tire-pressure check only takes five minutes and can help avoid unwanted vehicle complications and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the road this year. The Rubber Manufacturers Association and Pep Boys suggest drivers use the acronym "PART" — Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread. Special to the Times


Proper inflation is important. The right amount is specified by the vehicle manufacturer and is on the vehicle's door sill, glove box door or fuel door. It's also listed in the vehicle owner's manual.

• Check inflation pressure at least once a month and before long trips. Always check tires when cool. After driving, tires need at least three hours to cool.

• Remember to check the spare.

• Visually inspect tires to make sure there are no nails or other embedded objects that could puncture the tire and cause an air leak. Check the sidewalls to make sure there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.

• Tire inflation pressure increases in warm weather or decreases in cold weather by 1 to 2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change.


Wheel misalignment can cause uneven and rapid tread wear and should be corrected by a tire dealer. Have the alignment checked periodically as specified by the vehicle owner's manual or whenever there is an indication of trouble such as "pulling." Also check tire balance periodically.


Tire rotation can prevent irregular tire wear. Always refer to the vehicle owner's manual for rotation recommendations. If no rotation period is specified, tires should be rotated approximately every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. After rotation, make sure inflation pressure is set to the vehicle manufacturer's specification.


Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch. Traction and resistance to hydroplaning is reduced as tires wear. Place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, there is a proper amount of tread. If all of Lincoln's head is visible, it's time to buy new tires.

Built-in tread wear indicators or "wear bars" will appear on the tire when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch. When the top of the "wear bars" are flush with the tire tread, the tire needs to be replaced. Visually check tires for signs of irregular tread wear, such as high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Consult a tire dealer as soon as possible.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Vehicles equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System can help detect loss of inflation pressure. Federal regulations require TPMS to warn drivers when tires are 25 percent under-inflated. For many vehicles this warning may be too late to prevent damage caused by under inflation. TPMS units are not a replacement for monthly tire pressure checks with a gauge.

Four simple checks will keep your car's tires in good shape 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month


    How low can Florida's unemployment go? Pretty low, according to the state's latest unemployment numbers. The Sunshine State's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent for June, down from 4.3 percent in May, state officials said Friday morning.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  3. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 16.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]
  4. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.