As a mom (and a human being in general), it's so important to take every necessary precaution to make sure we're staying safe on the road while driving our kids to and from a gazillion different activities on any given day of the week. But like most of us, I'm sure when you think of "car safety," things like following the speed limit, paying attention to the road, and being aware of your surroundings are what immediately comes to mind.
But believe it or not, all of those things are much less effective if you don't take care of one key area of your vehicle -- your tires.
And yes, I know what you're thinking, "Tires? What the hell do the tires on my car matter? As long as they get me from point A to point B, they're fine."
WRONG. (So wrong.)
Up until last week, I (like most moms I know) had no idea just how important our tires are to the overall safety of our cars. I mean, I'm no car person. Like at all. Whenever anyone asks me if I know how to change a tire, I respond with, "Of course I know how. I hit the OnStar button on my rear view mirror and a magical little man shows up and does it for me."
But after attending the SuperMom Ride N' Drive event at the Cooper Tire Vehicle Test Center near San Antonio, Texas -- I'm full of all sorts of tire wisdom, which will hopefully avoid me ever actually having to press that OnStar button. And it will make me feel a whole lot better about driving around town with my son in tow too.
Here are seven things every mom should know about how to stay safe on the road -- starting with her tires. (Seriously, take these tips to heart, girls. If nothing else, you'll impress your husband with how much smarter you are about cars than he is.)
- Check your tread -- The last thing you want is to hit your brakes suddenly and go into a skid because there's absolutely no tread left on your tires. And simply eye-balling the wear and tear isn't effective. An easy way to check is by using a penny. Place the edge of the penny into the tread. If the top of Lincoln's head is visible at any point on the tire -- um, duh. You need new tires.
- Check your pressure -- If your tires aren't inflated properly, they could fail -- and it also messes with your gas mileage (which sucks). Make sure to check your tire inflation pressure regularly, either by using a pressure gauge or having it checked at a local automotive shop. Your vehicle owner's manual will tell you the recommended pressure for your car.
- Rotate regularly -- Ok, I'm calling a huge fail on this one, because I'm awful about rotating my tires. It needs to be done approximately every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. (My car is at 13,000 and I've never done it. Oops.)
- Replace correctly -- Huh? What do you mean correctly? Ideally, if you are replacing your tires, you should do all four at once. But if you can only do two at a time, always make sure the new tires are placed on the rear of your vehicle, not the front. Believe me. I test drove two different vehicles with new tires on the front vs. the back. And yes, I had WAY more control of the car with the new rear tires.
- Know your sh*& -- Sigh. As sad as it may be, the minute you walk into a tire store and the salesman sees you, he assumes you have no idea what in the hell you're doing. And that's why you want to go in there ready to fire off things like, "I drive my car for xyz miles per year," and you want to be able to immediately tell him what you are interested in, based on the kind of tire that is right for your vehicle (again, consult your owner's manual).
- Choose wisely -- Believe it or not, all tires are not created equal. You want to select the right tire based on the conditions you'll be driving in. After test driving a car with Cooper Tires versus another well-known brand, I was amazed at the difference in how much more in control I felt of the vehicle outfitted with the Cooper Tires. And the best quality tire isn't necessarily the most expensive. (You get a lotta bang for your buck with Cooper.)
- Trust your senses -- This one sounds like a no brainer, but I know I'm guilty of ignoring it. You drive your car every day, and you know when something "just doesn't feel right" as far as the way it grips the road, etc. If anything feels off balance, out-of-whack, or strange -- take the time to stop and check out your tires before assuming everything is "probably fine."
Are you good about taking care of your tires?
*Disclosure: Cooper Tire sponsored this event and paid for my accommodations. Regardless of that, all my opinions, statements, and comments are my own.
Image via Cooper Tire