Driving on the interstate, whether it’s the Perimeter, the Downtown Connector, or through Spaghetti Junction, is part of the Atlanta experience. Unfortunately, that experience can be a nightmare if you have a problem with your tires.
Your tires are the foundation of your car, the place where the rubber meets the road. Keeping your tires properly maintained improves the handling, traction and load-carrying capability of your vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Safercar.gov recommends checking air pressure in your tires at least once per month, as most tires naturally lose air over time. According to the NHTSA, under-inflated tires and overloaded vehicles are a major cause of tire failure. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy says under-inflated tires can reduce gas mileage.
Just looking at the tires isn’t enough to be sure you have enough pressure. You’ll need an accurate pressure gauge, which you can buy at any hardware or auto parts store. NHTSA explains that tires should be inflated to the specifications on the vehicle, which are usually on a placard inside the driver’s door or in the owner’s manual.
Be sure not to over-inflate tires, as this can present hazards, as well. The NHTSA says over-inflated tires can make it harder to control your vehicle and sometimes lead to loss of control and crashes.
After you check your tires’ air pressure, it’s also a good time to inspect your tires for signs of wear and tear. The tread of your tires should be at least 1/16 of an inch high, according to safercar.gov. You can test that by placing a penny upside-down and facing you in the tread. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires.
Other damage, like fraying sidewalls or pieces of metal caught in the tread, need immediate attention by a professional. Tiresafety.com offers information on the limits of when a tire can be fixed and when it is unrepairable.
The NHTSA recommends having your tires rotated every 5,000 miles to maximize their mileage. The rotation pattern depends on the type of vehicle and what kind of driving system it employs. Check your owner’s manual for the proper pattern.
Balancing tires with weights and aligning tires at the proper angle are best left to a professional. If your vehicle shakes, vibrates or veers to the left or right when driving, it’s a sign that your tires need balancing or alignment, the NHTSA says.
With your tires in optimal condition, you can navigate Atlanta roadways with a little more peace of mind. Stay on top of travel times with Georgia Navigator, where the Georgia Department of Transportation provides real-time information about interstate traffic conditions. According to the GDOT, about 500 closed-circuit cameras are installed in metro Atlanta to monitor the flow of traffic. Access it at 511ga.org, or by dialing 511.