It’s that time of the year once again, family road trip time! Every summer, while the kids are out of school, my wife and I try and plan a nice road trip for the family. The past few years we’ve driven down to the Texas coast visiting Port Aransas, Corpus Christi, and last year we even spent a day in San Antonio. This year we have an even more epic trip coming up and hopefully you’ll get to read all about it as we review a vehicle during our road trip. Yes, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to snatch up a large family vehicle these past few years to make these trips in; perks of the job. I’m always down for driving and flying just isn’t financially an option when you’re talking about bringing 6 or more people. This year we’ll be embarking on our trip with a Ford Expedition and we’re really looking forward to it. Although these are new vehicles with not many miles on them, I still have a pretty decent checklist before setting off on a long road trip with the family. This is even more important if you’re driving your own vehicle or even a rental.
What’s always number one on my checklist? Simple, the tires. Nothing puts more stress on your family car and its tires like the summer heat and a long family road trip. If drivers haven’t taken a good, close look at their car, truck or SUV tires, the time to do it is before you start your trip – and not on the shoulder of a busy highway. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your vehicle’s tires are up to snuff for your road trip.
- Check tire pressures regularly (at least once a month), and maintain them at the level recommended by the manufacturer. That level can typically be found in the owners manual or on a dedicated sticker in the driver’s door jam. If looking at the tire sidewall, know that the pressure listed there is the maximum pressure, not the correct pressure. That – again – can be found in the owners manual.
- Before filling the trunk, hatch or pickup bed with your vacation-sized cargo, check manufacturer recommendations for loading the vehicle. That info can typically be found on the vehicle’s door post or – again – in the owners manual. And note that a vehicle’s carrying capacity is a combination of passengers and load; more passengers will reduce available load capacity. Overloaded vehicles dramatically increase the risk of overheated tires. And while back there anyway, this is a great time to check the tire pressure of your spare. One can assume that – after two to three years – its original inflation pressure is somewhat depleted. This also a good time to address issues with wheel balance and alignment.
- Continually keep an eye on tread depth, foreign objects stuck in the tread, and any gouges that might be evident on the tire sidewalls. Of note: don’t check just the tread depth at the curb. Instead, take a look at both the inside and outside of the tire, as tire wear can often be uneven. Given their importance, the cost of new tires is small when compared to the cost – both financially and emotionally – of a failed tire on a passenger vehicle.
Be safe out there and come back to txGarage.com later in the summer to find out where we took our vacation and how the Expedition held up to the task.
Test results of summer and all-season tires can always be found at www.tirerack.com.