Family fun: 5 tips for going off-roading


(BPT) - Summer’s here and it’s the perfect time for the family to hit the road … off-road, that is. From Connecticut to California, there are scenic off-road trails of all varieties — rock, sand, dirt, water and mud — that are ideal for a family off-road excursion. Call it an off-the-beaten-path vacation.

“Leave the electronics at home, grab some supplies, engage the 4x4 system, and see where the adventure takes you. Off-roading is not only an extremely enjoyable way to appreciate the great outdoors, it offers a chance to strengthen family bonds and make memories that will last a lifetime,” says Christian Hazel, editor of Petersen’s 4-Wheel and Off-Road.

Depending on the terrain, you can go off-roading in your daily driver — almost any four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive SUV, crossover or light truck can handle it. You’ll be out in the wilderness for several hours, so some basic tips include:

* Bring plenty of food and water.

* Pack extra clothes in case temperatures drop as the sun goes down.

* Take along a flashlight (with new batteries) and a basic safety kit with bandages, sunscreen, gloves, etc.

* Research the area/trails where you’ll be off-roading. You’ll most likely be out of cell phone/GPS range, so it’s always good to know where you’ll be driving and what the roads will be like.

* Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape, especially the tires.

“Off- or on-road, tires are super important,” says Fred Koplin, senior director of marketing and motorsports for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for SUVs, pickup trucks and passenger cars. “They play a vital role in braking, steering, comfort and handling. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a Jeep or family wagon, the wrong tires can result in a disappointment with the handling, ride and treadwear.”

For off-roading, Koplin says you’ll need something extremely durable with great traction. “It all depends on what you drive and what you plan to do, but you can either go with a top-notch all-terrain (A/T) tire, which is very versatile, or a super strong mud-terrain (M/T) tire like our new, rugged GEOLANDAR M/T G003. Both types of tires are also designed for highway use and daily driving, too.”

Maintaining your A/T or M/T tires for daily use is essential, too, says Koplin. This includes taking five minutes a month to check your tire pressure. “A tire that’s underinflated will affect your drive and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Keeping them properly inflated will give you a better ride and save you some at the gas pump,” he says.

The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) recommends checking the tires when they are cold — at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven. Koplin says to always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water. The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer. The proper inflation levels can be found on a placard on the inside of the car door and/or in the owner’s manual.

Koplin offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:

* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.

* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch (the lowest legal limit). It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 depending on your drive (geographically and based on the type of streets).

* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.

For more tire care and safety tips, visit or

Moving tips, services to make military families' moves go smoothly


(BPT) - Moving is hectic for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for military families. Frequent relocations, sometimes across the country and often with short notice, can make it difficult for military families to build the kind of friends and family support teams that civilians rely on to help them move.

While military branches offer support programs and monetary allowances to help service people and their families move, when it comes to the nuts and bolts of relocating, military families can feel like they’re on their own. However, from hotels to moving companies, many moving-related businesses offer discounts and support to military families. For example, Penske Truck Rental not only offers military families a 20 percent discount on moving truck rentals, they have a dedicated call center for U.S. military moves.

If your family will be relocating this summer because of new orders, the moving experts at Penske offer some tips that can help make the move go smoothly:

* Plan ahead — Sometimes you might know in advance when and where you’ll be moving, but other times you might have short notice. Keep a folder of important information, such as phone numbers, contact names, checklists and bank accounts that will need to be moved. Having everything in one place before your orders arrive means you won’t be scrambling to locate important information at the last minute.

* Visit your Relocation Assistance Office — Military and Family Support Centers have relocation assistance offices that can help you navigate your move by connecting you with resources, helping you create a personalized moving calendar, contacting the support center at your new installation and connecting you with a sponsor there.

* Get to know your sponsor — When you move to your new installation, you’ll be assigned a sponsor who’s already working there. Generally, the military tries to pair sponsors who have something in common with the incoming personnel, such as the same rank or family background. Your sponsor can help make you feel welcome in your new location, share information about your duty station, and answer questions you and your family may have.

* Be mindful of rental truck weight — Military rules require you to certify the weight of your rental vehicle when it’s empty and after it’s fully loaded. The weight affects travel reimbursements, as do your rank and number of dependents, so it’s important to estimate the weight of your load ahead of time. Generally, you can expect 1,000 pounds per room, excluding bathrooms and storage areas. Add in the estimated weight of large appliances, garage items and things in storage, then compare that number to your allowance so you can be sure to avoid overweight costs. Penske offers a Certified Public Scale locator tool online to help movers in finding weigh stations.

* Make an inventory of your belongings — Before you load your rental truck, be sure to make an inventory of everything you’re putting on the truck. Consider taking pictures of any high-value items. Mark each box with your family name, destination, the room the items will be going to in your new home, and a general idea of what’s inside the box.

Moving is an inevitable part of military life, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. With some planning and support from resources like Military One Source’s moving pages and Penske Rental Truck’s dedicated military call center, you can make your family’s move as smooth as possible.

3 tips when buying a used car


(BPT) - If you’re in the market for a used vehicle, the car-buying process can be both an exciting and daunting experience. Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking for a different model, a car is one of the largest purchases you will ever make. It’s not only important to make sure you have the right car for your lifestyle, but one that makes the most sense for your personal financial situation.

If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to buy, here are some tips to consider.

Get pre-approved

Similar to buying a house, it’s important to know what you can afford before you start hunting for your dream car. If you will be financing a vehicle, getting pre-approved for a car loan may save you a lot of heartburn during your car search.

Interest rates continue to be at historic lows, but it’s important to check in on what rates you may qualify for and how it will affect the price of what you can afford.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of looking for a new car and forget about the affordability piece,” says Renee Horne, vice president of Consumer Lending at USAA. “Before you even begin your search, give your lender a call to see what you can actually qualify for and what will fit in your budget.”

A good tip to keep in mind is to not let your car payment exceed more than 15 percent of your monthly net income. While you don’t have to stick to it, this rule will help give you a rough estimate of what you may be spending each month.

Know what you can afford

Knowing what you can afford reaches beyond your car loan payment. Although used cars are typically less expensive, they may have more maintenance and ownership costs.

“It’s important to look at the total cost of ownership,” says Heather Pollard, vice president of Auto Experience at USAA. “Everyday expenses such as gas, insurance, taxes, maintenance and future repairs are all associated with owning a vehicle.”

Knowing a rough estimate of these expenses will help you stay on budget in the long run. Simple online loan calculators, like this one at USAA, can help give you an idea of how much you can afford.

Narrow your choices

With countless choices available, finding the right car for you can be a challenge. Your budget should help narrow some of your choices, but consider your lifestyle as well.

Do you have young children or plan to start a family soon? Then you might want to consider the highest IIHS safety ratings. Do you frequently travel for work? In that case, improved gas mileage and reduced emissions are important factors. Remember, all those extra upgrades come with a higher insurance price tag and are depreciating assets once you drive off the lot.

Although you may be more inclined to go after a new car with the latest cutting-edge technology, a pre-owned vehicle may be the better alternative for your lifestyle and budget. Better still, used car prices are the lowest they have been in years. Even if you opt for a slightly older version of the model you’re interested in, many used models still offer similar advanced features while saving you thousands of dollars in the end.

Need help finding the right car for you? The USAA Car Buying Service can help.

4 quick tips to keep you safe on the road


(BPT) - The warmer weather means longer days, backyard barbecues and weekends away. Before setting out on the open road, make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the journey ahead. Hankook Tire took a look at driving trends and behaviors to identify what drivers do (or forget to do) to keep safe on the road this season.

1. Keep your eyes on the road.

One of the easiest ways to avoid accidents, wrong turns or other highway mishaps is to stay focused. Cell phones are most often responsible for distracted driving, according to the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index. One-third (33 percent) of Americans regularly take phone calls while on the road, and one in 10 drivers (11 percent) admit to texting while driving. To help put this risk into perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports texting while driving on the highway is equivalent to driving blindfolded for the length of an entire football field. Promising news for drivers is that the Gauge also found that nearly one-half (49 percent) of drivers use Bluetooth, dictation or do-not-disturb features while driving to maintain better focus while on the road.

2. Take advantage of tech.

As automotive technology continues to advance, cars are constantly updated with the latest and greatest to make your time behind the wheel more comfortable, more efficient and safer. Over one-third (34 percent) of drivers reported their vehicles are equipped with a rear view camera, and 26 percent have adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe driving distance. While 73 percent of Americans find these enhanced safety features very useful, the Gauge Index found that more than half (57 percent) of drivers don’t actually use them. Regardless of the features in your car, it’s important to not let the summer fun distract you from checking rear and side view mirrors, blind spots and speed.

3. Don’t tread lightly.

Before a road trip, most people fill up the tank, gather snacks and make sure the kids are set up with movies and games. What about your tires? Americans are mostly likely to check the condition of their tires if they appear to look low or uneven (65 percent) or if a warning light appears (49 percent).

Even if not prompted by a warning light or unusual sounds, always double check your tires’ air pressure and tread depth before an extended trip, as healthy tires improve gas mileage and save money at the pump. In addition to the financial benefits of healthy tires, Americans also recognize the importance of tire tread in providing safety and control, as 75 percent of drivers think about how effective their tire tread is when driving through heavy rain, and 61 percent are mindful of their tread when driving on a hairpin turn. Additionally, close to one-fifth (18 percent) of Americans believe enhanced tire grip provides more safety on tough turns than wider lanes, reduced speed limits or road sign warnings.

4. Who ya gonna call?

Even the most prepared and proactive drivers can end up on the side of the road because of unforeseen driving events. Whether it’s a flat tire, dead battery or overheated engine, 41 percent of Americans listed an auto club as their first phone call, followed by their significant other at 27 percent, according to the Gauge Index. Only 3 percent of respondents recognized that their first call should be to local authorities, who can update traffic information, create a safe roadside situation and send the proper help to get you back on the road safely.

By following these quick tips and guidelines to safety, you can go full steam ahead to wherever your destination this summer may be!

Transportation safety: How seniors can maintain independence outside the home


(BPT) - It can be hard to admit your vision isn’t what it used to be, especially when it comes to driving. Maybe you’ve noticed some difficulties reading traffic signals, or you’ve found it challenging to drive at night.

If you’re a family member noticing these warning signs in a loved one, pointing out these challenges may seem like a daunting and delicate undertaking. But when it comes to being on the road, safety is one thing you can’t ignore.

Encouraging your loved one to prioritize safety can be hard, especially when it feels like their independence is at stake. That's why it's important to have an open and honest discussion to determine the best options for maintaining independence outside the home.

Step 1: Address driver safety

Vision is the most important sense for driving safety. Annual vision screening is important for everyone, but it is especially critical for older people, since the sensory data used for driving is predominantly visual.

For seniors still able to drive, a defensive driving class can be beneficial. These classes allow students to brush up on skills while gaining confidence and introduce them to alternative transportation options for the times and locations of their preference. What's more, many insurance companies provide discounts to seniors who complete these courses.

Giving up driving doesn't have to mean choosing between all or nothing. For example, start limiting driving to daylight only, non-rush-hour periods. Then look into supplementary transportation options that eliminate the need to drive while still allowing you to get where you need to go.

Step 2: Research transportation options

It's important to educate yourself or your loved one about locally available transportation options for seniors. When you know there are reliable, cost-effective transportation options available, it can help maintain a high level of independence for a trip to the grocery store or a doctor's appointment.

Rides in Sight is a nationwide, online database of senior transportation options built by ITNAmerica, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing sustainable transportation options for seniors. Visit and enter basic information like your state or zip code, and you can find the ride option that’s best for your situation. If you prefer to access information by phone, call 1-855-60-RIDES (1-855-607-4337).

Rides in Sight makes it easy to find customized transportation, no matter what a person's needs. For example, you can find wheelchair accessible transportation options or door-to-door driver assistance if that’s what you need.

Step 3: Implement a trial period

Giving up the keys is easier if you do it over a period of time. Pick a date and schedule your first ride with a transportation service during a time you normally drive. Any change takes time to adapt to, so try it out for a while before reassessing and making any necessary adjustments. After this trial period, you should feel more comfortable with someone else driving you, and you get to be in control of your mobility.

For older Americans, it's important to be able to maintain independence when they limit or stop driving. When they are encouraged to create their own driving transition plan, more emphasis can be placed on finding new passions and activities to engage with their communities. The result is a positive impact on people of all ages.

To have that impact, reliable, secure transportation is essential. Having the necessary conversations and researching appropriate transportation options helps keep everyone happy, healthy and safe.

Auto insight: Tips to maximize engine performance


(BPT) - You may not be a legendary stunt driver, but the car you drive today has a lot of technology under the hood. Whether you're commuting to work or heading to the grocery store, you want to get the most out of your engine's performance.

Your daily drive probably doesn't involve a powerful car, wild icy terrain or heart-pumping stunts like in the viral video TITANIUM ICE inspired by Universal Pictures’ upcoming film, The Fate of the Furious, in theaters April 14. But what you may not realize is today's engines are smaller, which means they must work harder at very high pressures.

To help your engine work smarter, not harder, and to get the most out of your vehicle, follow these expert tips. For additional advice, visit

Use the proper fuel gas: Use the highest-octane gasoline recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Clean filters: Keep the air filter and fuel filter clean. Eliminating debris maintains air and fuel flow, which helps maintain power.

Get regular oil changes: Oil keeps all the moving parts in your engine properly lubricated. Only a thin layer of oil separates critical engine parts to prevent friction and wear. Check oil levels and change regularly — per your owner’s manual or oil change indicator recommendation.

Upgrade oil: Castrol(R) EDGE(R) full synthetic motor oil, engineered with fluid-titanium technology, physically changes the way the oil behaves under pressure, helping reduce friction and maximize engine performance. Learn more at

Maintain coolant: Engines run hot, and your car's coolant system helps keep the temperature under control. Fill coolant tank as necessary and fix any leaks to avoid engine damage.

Reduce weight: The lighter your car, the better the engine will perform. If you're lugging around extra weight in the trunk, remove it and help your engine (and fuel economy) improve.

Tire pressure: Check your owner's manual to maintain proper tire pressure. Correctly filled tires will help you get optimum fuel economy, plus it helps your car grip the road, and keeps you safe.

Invest in a tune-up: No matter how car savvy you are, it pays to invest in a professional tune-up from time to time. Experts can spot small issues before they become big problems.

Be inspired: Check out TITANIUM ICE, a mixed-reality driving challenge filmed in the wild, icy landscape of the Yukon in Canada. Visit Castrol’s YouTube channel to see Michelle Rodriguez challenge her legendary stunt driver, Debbie Evans, and Evans' impressive Jaguar F-TYPE 5.0 Supercharged V8 R AWD — with the strength of Castrol EDGE — to compete against a mixed-reality army of military tanks, nuclear submarines, helicopters, missiles, explosions and shattering ice.

Enhance your car with these easy upgrades


(BPT) - Chances are you chose your current car or truck because of specific features or performance capabilities. These vary from vehicle to vehicle, and what one automobile may have, the other may lack. Thankfully, there are many ways to enhance the performance of your car or truck. According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), upgrading stock parts with aftermarket versions can instantly improve your car's performance and is relatively simple to do. Many companies offer different options for your car, so do your research and install the part that best suits your needs.

Replace the air filter: An air filter helps remove dirt and particles from the air that your engine uses to burn fuel. Clean air results in better gas mileage and improved acceleration. Filters are also designed to allow the correct amount of air into the engine for optimal performance. By increasing the amount of clean air that enters your engine, you increase its air-fuel mixture, resulting in improved performance.

To increase the amount of clean air entering your engine, simply replace the stock filter with a performance aftermarket air filter, which will help enhance horsepower, acceleration and torque, and may also provide better fuel economy and longer engine life. Additionally, some aftermarket air filters don't need to be changed as often as stock filters because they don't get clogged as quickly, and some you can clean yourself and put them back to use.

Upgrade the exhaust: After improving your engine combustion with an aftermarket air filter, upgrade your car's exhaust system for better performance. If your exhaust pipe is too small for the amount of combusted air that is now exiting the cylinders, it will lead to an increase in air resistance and create back pressure. By simply replacing the stock muffler you will create better airflow. To further enhance performance, have a qualified expert installer add aftermarket headers and bigger pipes.

Reduce weight: By just lowering the overall weight of a car, you will enhance its performance, especially in regard to acceleration. An easy way to reduce weight is to replace the stock wheels, which are typically made of steel, with alloy models. Alloy wheels will not only lower the weight but also enhance the look of your car. Other easy ways to reduce weight are by using ceramic brakes and running a lighter aftermarket battery.

Almost every part of your car can be replaced by an aftermarket version made of lighter material, such as carbon fiber or aluminum, so look into what part swap will give you the biggest weight savings for your buck.

Switch oil: Something as simple as switching to a higher-quality aftermarket oil can enhance performance. A higher-quality oil reduces friction between the moving parts of an engine, resulting in less power needed to operate. It may also do a better job of dissipating heat, which can extend the life of your engine.

Research: The aftermarket industry offers many choices to enhance the performance of your car, so be sure to research what's available. Manufacturers introduce new products annually at the SEMA Show, the leading trade show for businesses in the automotive industry. Consumers are able to connect with some of these businesses at the official SEMA Show after-party, also known as SEMA Ignited, where one-of-a-kind custom vehicle builds featuring the newest aftermarket products parade out of the convention center before making their way to the ultimate car show open to the public. For more information, visit

The lowdown on leasing


(BPT) - If you’re in the market for a new car, you might be thinking about leasing. After all, it seems very attractive on the surface — so attractive that leases accounted for one-third of all vehicles sales nationally in 2016. Taking a closer look though, you may be surprised to see there's more than meets the eye in some lease offers. So, here are a few need-to-know nuggets about leasing a car.

Cash up front is required.

If you're thinking that leasing gets you out of needing cash for a down payment, think again. That low monthly payment you’re after comes with upfront costs like taxes, registration, tags and other fees all due at signing. This could cost you thousands of dollars. And, if you want to lower the monthly payment even further, you’ll have to put additional funds toward the cost of the lease to get your payment where you want it to be.

Bells and whistles cost extra.

Just like when you’re buying a new car, the extras cost more. Advertised lease specials are usually for the base model — not the one with the navigation and safety packages you’re probably coveting. Adding on all the bells and whistles to your vehicle will mean higher payments because that raises the price of the car. Again, you may have to put an additional deposit down to land the payment you think you can afford.

Not owning means no asset.

Leasing is basically renting a car for an extended period of time — three to five years or so. Unlike buying a car, you won’t have an asset at the end of your lease. Which means you’ll have a decision to make: pay the residual value (the value of the car at the lease's end) to own the car outright, finance the residual or turn in your leased car for another. Regardless, you’ll again need the cash for a down payment or the upfront costs for your next lease — whereas with buying a car you'll have a definitive end to monthly payments. Once your loan is paid off, you can put that money toward savings or paying down debt. Or, you can use your car as a trade-in on another ride or for cash if you ever need to sell it.

Once you're in it, stay in it.

If you get halfway through your lease and decide it’s not for you, you’ll be charged for early termination, something to keep in mind if your financial lifestyle changes often. In some cases, you might be required to continue to pay all regularly scheduled payments or your credit could take a hit.

Understand complex negotiations.

Understanding how a car loan works can sometimes be difficult for a first-timer, and things get even more intricate when you lease. Here are a few terms you may hear during lease negotiations:

Capitalized cost: Cost of the vehicle today.

Lease term: Length of the lease, usually expressed in months.

Residual value: Vehicle’s expected value at the end of the lease.

Depreciation: The difference between the capitalized cost and residual value.

Lease factor, or money factor: Cost of leasing, or interest — usually expressed as a very small number such as .003. Multiply this number by 2,400 to get your interest rate. In this example, that’s 7 percent. As a note, interest rates on leases tend to be higher than those on auto loans.

If you want to ace your lease negotiation, you should study the vocab and have A+ credit, too. You may not get the best deal if you’re unsure about your credit score, leasing terminology or the calculations mentioned above.

Mind your miles.

Depending on how often you get behind the wheel and how far you go, you could be forced to make some lifestyle changes if you lease. Most leases cap mileage somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year, or a total of 30,000 to 45,000 miles. Driving over this limit could cost you up to 25 cents per mile.

If you drive 30 miles round-trip for your commute, you’re traveling 150 miles over a five-day workweek. That’s nearly 8,000 miles just driving to work each year — 24,000 miles over the course of your lease. Depending on your limit, that doesn’t leave much wiggle room for things like road trips, traveling to sporting events, chauffeuring the kids to extracurriculars or even grabbing a bite to eat downtown. Those things could be taken off the table if you lease. If the freedom of driving whenever, wherever is something you enjoy, a lease may not be the best option.

The choice is yours.

Leasing might be for you if you want to drive a new car every three to five years, can drive within the limits and maintain good credit. On the other hand, today’s cars can easily last 10 years if maintained well, and once fully paid for, allow you to sock away monthly payments for other things. There are sites that offer side-by-side comparisons of buying and leasing to help you make the right choice. This calculator from Navy Federal Credit Union is just one example. In the end, it's up to you. Armed with the details on the real deal of leasing and your buying options, you're on the road to making the right choice.

Must-do tips to get your vehicle ready for spring


(BPT) - With the sun out and shining for spring, drivers are getting themselves and their cars ready for more outdoor activity. Before setting off on that next adventure, drivers should check the health and maintenance of their vehicle, as April marks the start of National Car Care Month. In light of the awareness month, Hankook checked in with drivers across America to see how they maintain their vehicles, uncovering trends on general upkeep around tire replacement, vehicle mishaps and roadside emergencies.

Sounds and smells mean service

If you are driving a car that clunks or a ride that rattles, it's likely an indication of some much-needed service. According to the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index, over two-thirds (70 percent) of Americans will immediately schedule a trip to the repair shop after hearing irregular sounds from their vehicle and 59 percent of drivers will take their car in if they smell something funky. While your senses can certainly help indicate when it's time for a visit to the mechanic, it's important to consider the date since your last visit to the shop, which less than half (46 percent) of Americans do. Remember to check the little things like air filters or that your air conditioning system works now as pollen starts to dust the roads and temperatures climb.

While you might be able to hear or smell the problems within your vehicle, how do you know when to change your tire? A majority of Americans (65 percent) trade in for a new set of tires when the tread looks worn down. However, only 8 percent adhere to the mileage rating of the tire to help make more accurate decisions on when it's time to replace their tires. Major tire manufacturers will list the tread life/mileage on their website, but you can also use the Tire Tread Indicator on the bottom of the tire's grooves to ensure the tread depth is sufficient for optimum safety and performance.

Trouble on the road

While drivers can make sure their cars are in tip-top shape, the condition of roads and highways can be another issue. Nine in 10 Americans believe the infrastructure or condition of roads and highways is a current issue for drivers. This sentiment might stem from the fact one-third of drivers have had their vehicle or tires damaged from a pothole, and more than a quarter of drivers have had a flat tire as a result of a pothole. Not only can potholes be a hazard, but Hankook found that over a quarter (26 percent) of drivers don't know how to change a tire, including nearly half (43 percent) of all women.

Spare me the details

In case you do find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire, it's important to regularly check the health of your spare tire. By design, spares are often just a temporary solution to get to a mechanic, as performance and safety are limited by their smaller contact patch and overall diameter compared to a standard tire. In addition, a spare is also not nearly as durable by comparison, making any road hazard more dangerous.

However, the Hankook Gauge found that 34 percent of Americans will drive straight to the mechanic with a spare tire, but almost one-quarter (22 percent) of Americans will drive over 50 miles on a spare. If you are a driver with worn-out tires or currently driving on a spare, there are deals available to help you save on tires, including Hankook's Great Catch Rebate program.

As the weather heats up, there is not a better time to check the health and safety of your vehicle to get you out on the open road.

Tire tips for those in the fast lane


(BPT) - The weather’s finally warming up, the roads are dry and your sports car is beckoning you to hit the road for a fun trip. The question is: Are your tires up to the task?

“Tires influence braking, steering, comfort, handling and even fuel efficiency,” says Bob Abram, consumer tires product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation. “Whether you drive a sports car, minivan or high-end luxury vehicle, it’s important you have the right tires because choosing the wrong ones can result in a disappointment with the handling, ride and treadwear.”

When it comes to fast and fun vehicles, Abram said ultra-high-performance (UHP) tires might be the best bet, depending on driving styles and vehicle performance. Finding the best one could be daunting, so he has some quick tips to get you rolling.

1. Take extra time to research. When conducting online research, make sure the reviews (and reviewers) are using the vehicle the way you do. If you need to drive in snow, but the reviews don’t mention winter driving, then that tire might not work best for you. In short, don’t look for the top-rated tires in regard to just “performance”; make sure to add in how and where you drive.

2. Look for a mileage warranty. The best UHP all-season (A/S) tires now have a mileage warranty to give you peace of mind about a balance of performance and tread life. For example, the ADVAN Sport A/S has a 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranty for W- and Y-speed models.

3. Look for balanced performance. Most drivers will be happier with a tire that handles well in all seasons, but also offers a smooth, comfortable ride and good treadwear. Usually the best UHP all-season tires do many things well, not just one or two. This is where your research will really pay off.

Once you decide on the right UHP tires for your vehicle, Abram says, maintaining them is essential to get their full benefits. “It always starts with checking your tire pressure regularly, which is at least once a month. It only takes 5 minutes and can really help, because a tire that is underinflated by only 8 psi can reduce fuel economy up to 2 percent.”

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) recommends checking the tires when they are cold — at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven. Abram says to always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water.

“The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer,” Abram says. “The proper inflation levels can be found on a placard on the inside of the car door and/or in the owner’s manual.”

Abram offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:

* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.

* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch (the lowest legal limit). It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 depending on your drive (geographically and based on the type of streets).

* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.

For more tire care and safety tips, visit or