BPT -- The holidays are here again, and so is running - er, driving - around for things. Rushing to parties, picking up family at the airport, preparing dinners, and, of course, shopping. Whether it's fighting for parking spaces at the mall or traveling over the river and through the woods, don't overlook the four round pieces of rubber that are responsible for safely getting you from point A to point B - your tires.
"People have a lot of to-do's on their checklist during the holidays, but one thing they tend to forget is to check on the condition of their tires," says Dan Guiney, director of technical services for Yokohama Tire Corp., maker of a variety of truck and car tires. "It's something every driver should do."
"Tires must be replaced for traction considerations depending on anticipated roadway and weather driving conditions and by Federal regulation when the tread is worn to 2/32 of an inch groove depth remaining. You want to prevent loss of traction which may result in skidding and hydroplaning," says Guiney."
It's hard to visualize what that acceptable tread depth looks like, so place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If the top part of Lincoln's head is just starting to be covered, you're driving with the very minimum amount of tread depth, 2/32nds. If driving conditions will be wet or snowy you may want to purchase new tires before the minimum levels to maximize traction performance. If heavy snow or ice is anticipated, winter tires are an excellent choice because they can provide considerably more winter traction than all-season tires. And because your all-season tires are taking a "winter vacation," they'll last longer.
"Tire technology has come a very long way, resulting in tires that last longer and are more fuel efficient," says Guiney. "For example, at Yokohama our engineers use a technology on the AVID Ascend that blends the oil from citrus products with rubber to create a special compound that enhance traction and fuel economy with long tread wear life. However, drivers still have the responsibility to check their tires regularly to get the optimum performance out of them."
For the holiday season or the daily commute, driving smartly and maintaining your tires can save money at the gas station. Here are some of Guiney's tips:
* Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against water and foreign objects.
* Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel costs up to 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save up to 13 percent.
* Tire alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires lower mileage and creates unnecessary tire wear.
For additional tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org.