Spring / Pothole Season Driving Tips

Spring Season Driving Tips

Springtime brings baseball, allergies, tax returns (hopefully, fat ones) and spring showers, the latter of which can result in dangerously slick roads. The Rubber Manufacturers Assn, which knows everything there is to know about tires, offers these driving tips for the spring season. You may want to pass the list along to your family members as well.

  • Stopping on a wet road can take up to four times the normal distance on a dry road. During wet weather conditions, drive slowly and keep in mind that stopping distances will be longer.
  • Check the pressure of your tires once a month, and before every long trip, to ensure that when you do need to stop, your tires can do everything they're supposed to do. The correct inflation pressure for your tires is specified by the vehicle manufacturer and is shown on the vehicle door edge, door post, glove box door or fuel door. It is also listed in the owner's manual. The maximum inflation pressure listed on the tire is not the recommended pressure.
  • Rain water that mixes with oil or grime on the streets can cause slippery conditions (ever driven on the freeways of Southern California during the first spring storm?) that may result in unexpected skidding.
  • Make sure you have the alignment and balance of your tires checked regularly so that if you do skid, your vehicle is properly equipped to help you stop safely.
  • Rotating your tires can sometimes help correct irregular tire wear. Before rotating your tires, always refer to your car's owner's manual for rotation recommendations. If no rotation period is specified, tires should be rotated approximately every 5,000 miles.
  • In a sudden downpour, driving fast or driving on worn tires can cause your tires to hydroplane. This means that your tires "surf" along on a film of water just like a water skier. Slow down in sudden downpours and make sure you check the tread on your tires once per month and before every long trip. Your tires should have at least 2/32 inch of tread depth.

Pothole Season Driving Tips

In many areas of the country, the snow and ice of winter have left roads in bad shape. The repeated freezing and thawing of moisture seeps through road surfaces and causes potholes. Here are some more tips for pothole season:

  • Hitting potholes can throw your car's front end out of alignment. If you feel your car "pulling" during driving, that's a clue that you could have a problem.
  • Check the tread on your tires. Uneven tread wear can be a sign of misalignment. If you hit a severe pothole, have a tire dealer check your vehicle's alignment and tire balance.
  • When you hit a pothole you can damage your tire and/or the metal wheel of your vehicle. Keeping your tires properly inflated will help reduce damage from potholes and other road hazards.
  • The impact of potholes on tires increases dramatically with speed and can cause hidden, internal damage that could lead to tire failure weeks, or even month, later. It's best to avoid potholes entirely, but if that's not possible, don't brake during the pothole impact. Instead, apply brakes before hitting a pothole and release them just before impact. Braking during the impact sets up the tire and wheel assembly for a "solid hit" against the edge of the hole. Less severe damage occurs when a tire is rolling than when it is skidding over a hole during braking.