I’m about to send my daughter off to college out of state, and I’m making a list of things she should know—you know, everyday stuff to get by in the real world. She’s taking a car with her, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far on that front:
How to check tire pressure
Never take the cap off the radiator when the car’s hot
How to change a tire
It’s pretty basic, huh? So is my knowledge of anything car-related. I have no idea how to do any of this–I don’t even know what her tire pressure is supposed to be!! Or why it’s important! I know flat and not flat, and I want to know more. I want more my girl to know more. Help me out Bree! Give me the basic “What every girl should know about tires” list!
Lost in the Tire Dept
In Marion, IL
Sister, I know where you’re coming from on the flat and non-flat front. Your list is a good start, but there’s more to know about taking care of your tires than tire pressure and changing a flat, and I’m going to tell you about all of them. Once upon a time, Bree was just like you—more likely to call a man to change my tire than risk a good manicure. But no more! Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful redhead named Bree. She woke up late on a Saturday craving ice cream (she was young, it was college–you know, when you could still eat ice cream for breakfast and feel okay about it), so she jumped in her car, and ran over to the local Kash and Karry. She grabbed two kinds of ice cream, just in case, and trotted back out to her car, ready to race home and relax. What did she see when she got there? She saw a flat tire–not quite a pancake but pretty close. Bree hadn’t noticed it before because she hadn’t gone around to that side of the car, and she had a habit then of turning the radio up when she sensed a problem while driving.
What to do? She hauled herself back into the Kash and Karry to call AAA, then went and sat beside her car and watched her ice cream melt while she waited. Just then, a Kash and Karry cart collector walked by and said, “Hey, you got a flat? Why don’t you call your boyfriend?” Bree wasn’t born yesterday, she knew the answer he was looking for, so she said, “AAA is more reliable!” And she meant it—and he moved on. The moral of my rambling? AAA is reliable but a girl ought to be able to rely on herself for more than dialing a phone.
So, let’s help your girl out. I’ve got a very basic list that I like to call “The Top Five Things Every Girl Should Know to Save Her Own Butt (Tire Version)”. Here goes:
1. How to check tire pressure.
Basic, yet important. First, get a tire gauge. You can get one at any automotive store; heck, you can probably find one at Target or Walmart, for all I know—just get one. If you have no idea what one looks like, ask someone to help you. Ignore the condescending smile they give you and take it home. You and your daughter are going to know enough soon that you’ll be advising them.
Check the pressure when the tires are cold, that means before you go driving all over town. Do it first thing in the morning or at least a half hour after the car’s been driven. Now, you need to find the tire pressure level appropriate for your car. Look in the owner’s manual or on the doorjamb of the driver’s door. Don’t blindly follow the maximum tire pressure listed right on the tire—that’s the max, not the recommended pressure! There’s a difference. Then, find the valve (think about pumping up the tires on your childhood Schwinn—you know what to look for) and take off the cap (a word of advice, put the valve cap in your pocket—those little suckers have a nasty habit of disappearing).
Press the tire gauge onto the valve stem for a couple of seconds and then check the reading. Don’t get freaked out by the little hiss of air that comes out when you check the pressure—totally normal. Check the pressure a couple of times on each tire just to make sure you’re accurate. Maybe only one tire looks low, but just be safe and check them all–and don’t forget to occasionally check the pressure on your spare. It would not be good to get a flat and realize your spare is flat, too. If you think you’ll forget the pressure on each tire, write it down. Checking your tire pressure is a pretty quick process.
Next time, I’ll tell you why it’s important to know how much air to put in your tires. Problems happen when you over or under-fill tires and your daughter (and you!) need to know what they are. Remember—next to brakes, tires are the most important safety device on your car. You need to know how to take care of them and when to replace them, and I’m going to tell you. In the meantime, check out our RNR Custom Wheels and Tires website or stop in to talk to one of our specialists–they’ll help you with anything tire-related that you need to know! Talk to you soon!