Check Your Tires, Save Money

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Clipping coupons, selling plasma, second jobs -- it seems like folks will do just about anything to weather the economic storm. A penny saved is a penny closer to something off the Dollar Menu, after all.

Luckily, though, saving money can be as easy as looking down at your car’s tires and doing a few quick tests. Cooper Tire (Stock Quote: CTB), a global designer and manufacturer of car tires, has some easy tips for us to follow:

Test air pressure: “Under-inflation causes excessive stress on the tire, and can create irregular wear, which shortens the lifespan of tires. What's more, proper air pressure can improve gas mileage by more than three percent – reducing drivers’ gasoline consumption and expense. Check your owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge, door post, glove box door or fuel door for your tires’ correct pressure and adjust your tires’ pressures accordingly. A common myth is the tire pressure listed on your tires’ sidewall is the optimal pressure – in reality it’s the maximum pressure.”

Check wheel alignment: “Wheel alignment and balancing are important for safety and maximum mileage from your tires. You should have your alignment checked periodically as specified by the vehicle owner’s manual or whenever you have an indication of trouble such as pulling, vibration or irregular tire wear. Also, inspect your tires at least once a month for signs of uneven wear or damage (i.e., cuts, cracks, splits, punctures, bulges and impacts.) These conditions shorten the life of your tires and if not corrected, further tire damage or failure will occur (and may result in loss of vehicle control and serious personal injury).”

Rotate tires: “Rotating your tires on a regular basis will help ensure more uniform wear which results in extended life for your tires. Unless your vehicle owner’s manual has a specific recommendation, the rule of thumb for tire rotation is every 6,000 miles.”

Examine tread: “Bald tires can skid and slide on pavement, and are more likely to be damaged by potholes and other road hazards … Perform a simple test using a US penny. Put the edge of the coin into the tread, with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of Lincoln's heads is covered by tread, that means you're driving with the proper amount of tread. If the top of his head is entirely visible, it's time to replace the tire.”

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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