Tire Maintenance Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

Excited to hit the road with that brand new license or a new stylish ride this summer? Here are some key things to know about tire maintenance safety that will save you time, money, and help you avoid an accident.

AAMCO  | 06/16/2020

When you get behind the wheel, what are the most important elements of your ride? Would you believe us if we told you one of the most important elements of your car is your tires? 

It’s true! Not only are your tires responsible for helping you get from point A to B, but they are also the first line of defense in keeping you safe along the way. Your tires also take quite a beating as you cruise around town, so it’s essential to take care of them as they gain wear and tear. 

Let’s take a look at three areas of tire safety and maintenance that can ensure that your ride stays as fresh as you look behind the wheel.

3 Tire Safety Tips for Teens 

When it comes to vehicle safety, the best offense is a great defense. The same is true when it comes to your tires. Here are three tips that will help you look after your tires so that they stay strong ride after ride: 

1. Keep your tire pressure at the recommended PSI level for your vehicle. 

Car manufacturers have developed a specific PSI, pressure-per-square-inch, level at which your tire will perform best. Low tire pressure is a safety hazard and can cause a serious accident. Poor PSI affects braking distances and creates less responsive steering and handling, which can be especially dangerous in situations where you need to brake suddenly or veer out of the way of something. Incorrect inflation can cause tires to wear more quickly and can be detrimental when driving in wet, slick conditions. Low tire inflation can impact your tire’s resiliency, so unfortunate events like hitting a big ol’ pothole can lead to substantial damage. Additionally, it decreases fuel efficiency, which means more money spent at the pump. 

2. Use a tire pressure indicator to check your tire pressure regularly. 

By "regularly," we mean every time you go to the gas pump, every 10-degree change in temperature, or every 30 days. Drivers should always put air in their tires if the pressure gauge light comes on in the dash. Be sure you know how to put air in your tires and how to use the air machines at gas or service stations. 

3. Check Your Tire Tread Levels. 

When a tire loses its treads, it causes “baldness,” which can cause the vehicle to lose traction in icy or wet conditions. The purpose of your tire treads is to allow water to escape between them so your tire can be in direct contact with the road. If a tire has low or no treads, water cannot escape. The tire then floats on top of the water, which is the definition of hydroplaning. If your tires aren’t in contact with the road, you can quickly lose control of your vehicle and have a serious accident. Poor driving habits such as hard braking and burnouts can wear tread quicker, so you need to be mindful of your driving habits. 

Traditionally, an easy and cheap way to quickly check a tire's tread levels is by using the Penny Test — placing a penny in the tire's ridges, ensuring that you cannot see the top of Honest Abe's head. This test is considered outdated and has since been replaced by the Quarter Test for increased safety purposes. 

Tire Issues: Know the Signs 

There are many common tire issues you will encounter throughout your driving experience. Here are a few examples: 

  • Unexpected bulges on the sides of your tire. Bumps can be a clear sign that the interior of the tire has failed. Immediate repair is necessary. 
  • Shaking or vibrations while driving, particularly at highway speeds. These can indicate your wheels are not correctly aligned. 
  • Veering to the side of the road due to low pressure or worn treads. 

With the right knowledge in hand, you can handle nearly any tire issue that rolls your way. If you treat them well, your tires will treat you even better. 

How To Handle A Flat 

A flat tire can be scary, especially if you are traveling alone and unable to get assistance. However, flats are a common occurrence, and knowing how to change your tire when it happens can help you keep your cool. To change your tire, you will need to make sure you always keep a spare tire in your vehicle, as well as a jack, lug wrench, utility gloves, and essentials items like a flashlight (if it’s dark). 

Here is a step-by-step guide to changing a tire that anyone can master quickly!

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How to Change A Tire - A 7-Step Guide 

Keeping Calm During Roadside Emergencies 

While driving is an incredible experience, it’s also a huge responsibility. Remember that when operating a motor vehicle they can be prone to encounter emergencies from time to time. The most common roadside emergencies you will encounter while driving will be tire-related. Knowing what to do when they occur can keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe. 

If you ever have an emergency while driving, it's good to have easy access to a parent or guardian (Hint: always have your cell phone charged) and the number to your roadside assistance company and car insurance representative. It goes without saying that if you are involved in an accident, call 911 immediately. 

Knowledge and Maintenance Is The Key To A Smooth Ride

Driving a vehicle is an excellent way to experience an entirely new level of freedom. However, knowing how to be a responsible driver is even more important. By taking steps to learn how to properly care for your vehicle and handle anything that pops up unexpectedly, you can make sure that you stay safe on the road. 

 

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