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Prepare Your Car for a Safe Summer on the Road

Prepare Your Car for a Safe Summer on the Road
CHARLOTTE, NC – (June 9, 2008) – With summer just around the corner, Americans are planning their summer getaways.  And with rising fuel costs, more and more of them will forego air travel in favor of road trips.  Make no mistake, with the high price of gas, there are few travel bargains this year, but there are a number of ways consumers can prepare their vehicles – particularly their tires – for the coming travel season, to help improve fuel economy and keep them safe on the road.

“First and foremost, we can’t stress enough the importance of making sure your tires are properly inflated,” said Joerg Burfien, Director of R &D, Continental Tire North America, Inc.  “It’s one of the easiest ways to help improve fuel economy, while also prolonging the life of your tires, and keeping your family safe on the road.”

Properly inflated tires not only improve gas mileage, they last longer.  Proper inflation ensures safe handling, better ride quality, longer tread life and improved fuel economy.   Burfien recommends that consumers get into the habit of checking their tire pressure, including the spare, once a month.  

“It’s hard to believe, but each month, three out of four drivers wash their cars, but only one out of seven correctly checks their tire pressure,” he said.  
The correct tire pressure for your car is listed on the vehicle placard, which can be found in the following places:
-- in the car's owner manual
-- on the gas tank lid
-- on the driver's side door's edge
-- or on the door post

“When you check your tire’s inflation pressure, be sure the tires are cool - meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile,” he said. “Because air is a gas, it expands when heated and contracts when cooled – even when it’s the air in your tire. And most parts of North America experience a major climate change in the fall and early winter months when tire inflation pressure is likely to go down.”

Here’s a good rule of thumb:  For every 10° Fahrenheit change in air temperature, a tire's inflation pressure will change by about 1 pound per square inch (PSI) – increasing with higher temperatures and decreasing with lower temperatures.

Next, be sure to check the tread.  For safety purposes, tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch – Continental recommends 4/32 of an inch – in order to prevent skidding or hydroplaning. Before heading out on the road, visually check tires for signs of uneven wear -- high or low areas, or areas that are unusually smooth. Also check for signs of damage.  Here’s an easy test:  Place a penny into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, you're driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, it’s time to replace the tire.

Some other things to consider before you depart:  

Alignment: A bad jolt from hitting a curb or pothole can throw your front end out of alignment and damage your tires. Have a tire dealer check the alignment periodically to make sure your car is properly aligned.  Proper alignment helps increase the life and performance of the tires, and it also contributes to greater fuel economy.

Rotation:  Regular rotation helps extend the life and performance of tires. Regularly rotating your vehicle's tires will help you achieve more uniform wear. Unless your vehicle owner's manual has a specific recommendation, the guideline for tire rotation is approximately every 6,000-8,000 miles – or sooner if tires begin to show uneven wear. And if you have a full-size spare, this tire should be included in the rotation process, too. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, (RMA), 71 percent of drivers do not check the tire pressure in their spare tire.

Balancing: A wheel that is unbalanced will tramp up-and-down or shake. Unbalanced tires also put undue stress on the front-end parts, causing tires to wear out well before their tread life warranty.

If properly cared for, tires can last a long time — usually from 40,000 to 80,000 miles, depending on the application, according to the RMA.  Practice these good driving habits, which will help keep your tires in good condition:
-- Obey posted speed limits.
-- Avoid fast starts, stops and turns.
-- Avoid potholes and other objects on the road.
-- Do not run over curbs or hit your tires against the curb when parking.
-- Do not overload your vehicle. Check your vehicle’s tire information in the owner's manual for the maximum recommended load for your vehicle.

If you’ll be pulling a trailer, boat or RV, proper tire inflation is key, not only to prevent a blowout from too much weight, but also to keep the load steady and balanced.  A tow vehicle’s tires may require a higher tire pressure for towing, especially heavy loads, so be sure to abide by the manufacturer’s recommendations for fully-loaded tires, Burfien said.


According to the National Department of Transportation, the ability to handle and control a tow vehicle and trailer is greatly improved when the cargo is properly loaded and evenly distributed. Refer to your tow vehicle and trailer owner’s manual to find out how to: Balance weight from side to side; distribute cargo weight evenly along the length of the trailer; secure and brace all items to prevent them from moving during travel; adjust the height of the tow vehicle/trailer interface; and apply load leveling (weight distributing hitch bars).

Proper tire care also helps the environment, because underinflated tires waste fuel. Properly inflated tires help promote better fuel economy, and regular care helps tires get the most potential wear so they don't need to be replaced as often, Burfien said.  

Aside from checking tires, he also advised motorists to regularly check their belts, hoses and fluids before setting out so they don’t run into trouble on the road.

For media information, visit www.ctnamedia.com.

With targeted annual sales of more than $40 billion for 2008, the Continental Corporation is one of the top automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for the powertrain and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, the corporation contributes towards enhanced driving safety and protection of the global climate. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Today, the corporation employs approximately 150,000 people at nearly 200 locations in 36 countries.

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