Each spring, I can count on two things. (1) Everything in the city will be covered in pollen. (2) I will rack up hundreds of miles on the road. Spring marks the beginning of what I call the annual car season. As an auto journalist, I have to drive between Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Galveston to cover car shows, manufacturer events, and auto races.
Although I can’t do much about the pollen, I can keep my car in tip-top shape by getting regular tune-ups, oil changes, brake checks, and tire inspections and rotations.
Recently, I had to travel to Austin to cover the 2014 Manufacturer Championship at the famed Circuit of the Americas. Before I hit the road, I went online to schedule a free tire inspection and air pressure check at Discount Tire.
On the way to my appointment, I noticed that my air pressure warning light was on. I was losing pressure in the passenger side rear tire. I’m a bit paranoid about my air pressure because I’ve had several blowouts in my lifetime and I hate changing tires on the side of the road because of the inherent danger associated with it. Thankfully, the Discount Tire store was only a mile away from my house.
I entered the store and the salesperson greeted me with a smile. He pulled up my information and we went outside to have a look at the tires. As we approached the car, we could hear a hissing sound. Upon closer inspection, we discovered the problem. A shard of concrete was embedded in my rear tire. Although my car warned me about the air pressure problem before it became serious, many cars don’t have a warning indicator. If your car doesn’t have a pressure sensor, be on the lookout for these symptoms of low air pressure:
- Pulling or vibration that seems unnatural.
- Ticking sounds, which will be especially audible at slow, parking lot speeds.
- A bulging sidewall and/or excessively hot tire indicates a slow leak.
Sometimes the tire can be repaired, but if the puncture is close to the tire’s sidewall, it will have to be replaced. That was the case with my car. The salesperson told me the patch would not adhere properly and would come off after a few miles of driving.
Since the tire couldn’t be fixed, we went back inside to search for a replacement tire. The salesperson searched the inventory and couldn’t find a match because the tires on the Kia K900 are an unusual size. He called several local stores, but came up empty. Therefore we had to order the tires and have them installed another day.
In the meantime, the salesperson had a technician inspect the rest of my tires and install the spare (I had a full size spare and I didn’t have to worry about driving on a donut). After the inspection, the technician gave my tires a clean bill of health and I was ready to drive to the race.
Be sure to schedule your free tire inspection and air pressure check at Discount Tire. Failure to maintain the correct air pressure can result in poor gas mileage, reduce tire life, affect vehicle handling, and cause vehicle overloading. The inspection only takes a few minutes and can help keep your car in top shape.
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