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Have you checked your vehicle’s tires lately? It’s amazing how much rides on your vehicle’s tires. Not only can unevenly inflated or worn tires cost you money by reducing your vehicle’s efficiency and gas mileage, they can also be a safety hazard.

Check your tires every time you stop for gas. You don’t need to do much – just walk around your vehicle and take a quick glance at the tires. If you notice any problems like uneven wear or one that seems lower in air than the others, check the tire as soon as you get home. Use the penny test to check the tread. If you can insert a penny, upside down and with Abraham Lincoln’s portrait facing you, into the tread and still see Lincoln’s head, the tire treads are worn. Use a manual pressure gauge to check the tire pressure. The vehicle owner’s manual should provide you with the optimum pressure per tire, front and back. Never inflate the tires above the recommended pressure.

If you do notice that your vehicle’s tires are worn or one tire seems more worn than usual, take your vehicle into a tires shop or your favorite mechanic’s shop and have the alignment, balance and tires checked professionally. Uneven wear on tires or just one tire may be an indication of misalignment, and you may need to have the tire replaced. Not only will your vehicle handle more smoothly when the alignment is corrected, but it may also get better gas mileage. While it may only be pennies per mile, that saving adds up.

One last thing to check is the spare. Many people check their vehicle’s tires regularly but neglect to check the spare. Make sure your spare tire is properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s directions and instructions. Check to make sure your lug wrench, jack and safety cones or flares are in the trunk and that you’re familiar with the basic procedure for changing a tire.

It’s amazing how much rides on your tires. The next time you buckle your child into her car seat or climb into your vehicle, check your tires.