As you go about doing the best to maintain your vehicle, don't forget what it's sitting on! Tires are extremely important. Good, healthy tires minimize braking distance, permit maximum traction and help maintain a smooth ride.

Make tire inspection a part of your regular maintenance routine. Check them every two or three fill-ups. To make it convenient for you, stop at a gas station that has an air compressor. Or better yet, buy a small compressor and keep it in the garage at home!

First things first, you need to know proper tire pressure for your tires. You can always find it on the tire itself, though it can be hard to read, but the ideal pressure is going to come from your manufacturer. Check the owner's manual. There should also be a small sticker inside your doorframe.

Buy a small tire gauge and keep it in your glove box. When inspecting your tires, place the gauge on the valve stem (being sure to keep track of the cap!). Make sure it completely seals. If a tire is indeed low, put air in a small amount at a time, constantly checking to make sure you get it right. If you put too much in, your tire gauge should have a small bump on the opposite side. Place that upraised part against the valve. You'll both hear and feel the air escaping.

Getting the pressure just right is important. Under-inflating your tires can cause unnecessary friction, since more tire surface is making contact with the ground. Over-inflate your tires and the ride quality will suffer.

To complete your tire inspection, both visually look over your tires and if you don't mind getting your hands dirty, lightly run your hand over the tread. Check for nails or other objects that may have penetrated the tire and also bulges in the sidewall (usually caused by the tire being pinched between rim and curb). In either case, you need to consult a tire professional. 

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