Is an Electric Car Right for You?

Electric cars: We’ve all heard about them, and many of us have probably dreamed of a day when we won’t have to worry about riding the never-ending roller-coaster of gas prices. But, what is it really like to own an electric car? Read on to learn about the basic types of electric vehicles, along with some important pros and cons about operating one.


First, you should know that all-electric vehicles (EVs) are only part of the emerging electric car market. Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), which combine an internal combustion engine with the fuel efficiency of an electric motor under the same hood, make up the other segment. Factors like your average daily mileage and overall road conditions will help you determine which type of electric vehicle sparks your interest. But, if you’re curious about the all-electric vehicles, here are some things to know.

Reasons to Consider an Electric Vehicle

There are a lot of reasons why someone might choose to drive an all-electric vehicle, from environmental concerns to saving money on gas.

Never fill up a gas tank again. Just think about how nice it would be never to have to worry about the price at the pump again. All-electric vehicles liberate you from having to dole out more money as gas prices soar.

Keep the environment in mind. The U.S. Department of Energy says that all-electric vehicles don’t emit any pollutants from their tailpipes, so your car won’t contribute to air-quality issues. But, does note that the power plants that produce the electricity on which your car runs may still emit pollutants.

Maintenance and additional savings: EVs have no costs associated with oil changes, transmission fluids and fuel exhaust system maintenance — because they don’t need these services.

Tax incentives. There are also some tax incentives of which electric vehicle drivers can take advantage. The U.S. Department of Energy says electric vehicles purchased in 2010 or later may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500.

Some Things to Think About First

There are many pluses to driving an electric vehicle, but there are some potential drawbacks, as well.

Range. says that most electric vehicles can travel 100-200 miles before charging, whereas most vehicles powered by gasoline can go 300 miles or more before you have to stop for gas. When your vehicle does run out of juice, charging it back to full capacity can take four to eight hours (or about a half-hour for an 80 percent charge), compared to the few minutes it takes you to pull over and pump a full tank of gas. So, if you frequently take long road trips, this is something to think about.

Charging logistics. Another thing to consider is where to charge your vehicle. When the battery runs out on an EV, you must recharge it before you drive the vehicle again. There aren’t as many charging stations out there as there are roadside gas stations, so you may have to be more strategic and map out the charging stations along your route before you leave the house.

Costs. Although you won’t have to worry about paying for gas on a weekly basis, as many drivers of cars with internal combustion engines do, powering an electric car isn’t free. Rather than the price at the pump, you will now have to carefully consider how charging your EV at home affects your home electric bill. You also need to consider the cost of installing a charging station at your home, which, according to, can cost about $2,000 (although the installation of a charging station may make you eligible for a federal income tax credit to partially offset the cost).

Like any car purchase, it’s important to get all the facts about your new electric vehicle before you commit. One final thing to consider is car insurance for your EV.


Keep Your Commercial Vehicles Safe and Well-Tuned

Drivers who spend their work days on the road need their vehicles to perform efficiently and safely in all conditions. And if you operate a business fleet of commercial vehicles, preventive vehicle maintenance and keeping up on the federal regulations are key to keeping your employees and your property safe.


Vehicle-leasing arrangements will dictate the maintenance type and schedule, but small business owners can create a formal preventive maintenance program to help ensure day-to-day safety requirements are met.

Preventive Maintenance Program

Establishing a structured record-keeping system can help keep employees accountable for vehicle conditions. Record-keeping, along with a preventive vehicle maintenance program, are required by U.S. regulations, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA).

William Schaefer, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance director of vehicle programs, works to maintain consistent roadside inspections (with its thousands of inspectors) using the federal guidelines established by the FMCSA. Schaefer recommends incorporating the following daily inspection items in your program:

  • Ensure the floor is free of obstructions such as tools, rags or other loose items.
  • Inspect the seat belts to make sure that belts are in good shape and working properly.
  • Start up the engine to confirm that instruments, heaters, defrosters and windshield wipers are working properly.
  • Inspect the brakes and steering, gauges and indicators.
  • Check the headlights, body lights, signals, mirrors, outside reflectors and tires.
  • Check the emergency equipment. Make sure the fire extinguisher is charged and operable, and that there are adequate flares or reflective devices on hand.
  • Check the load securement.
  • Check of the maintenance schedule to ensure the vehicle is routinely serviced.
  • Be sure you have a vehicle record card or folder, which holds the history of the vehicle for easy reference. If the vehicle is leased, the record should identify the contractor supplying the vehicle.

For more information, check out the FMCSA’s New Entrant Safety Assurance Program, for companies who operate commercial motor vehicles. Here, you can set up your safety programs and pre-trip and post-trip inspection plans.

Preparation for Compliance Checks

It’s important to keep in mind that commercial vehicles are subject to state or federal safety regulations that will require a more formal approach to vehicle inspections and documentation, according to FMCSA. Compliance checks can be required by federal or state inspectors at any time, and they’re not just for large trucks. Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, including the weight of a trailer, could be subject to a random road check by the CSVA.

Roadside inspections can happen any day of the year, either randomly at a weigh station, or you could be pulled over by an inspector while driving (some states require probable cause, such as a broken headlight; others do not), Schaefer says. The checks focus on vehicle mechanical safety, traffic enforcement, cargo securement and regional rules and regulations. If applicable, drivers will need to present hours-of-service logs, a commercial driver’s license, medical cards and properly filled out pre- and post-trip inspection checklists, according to the CSVA.

With a preventive maintenance plan in place, knowledge of federal and state regulations, and teaching driver responsibility, your fleet should be ready for the road, so your team can focus on providing services to your customers.

Thinking of Buying a Convertible? Here’s What You Should Know


Rag tops. Soft tops. Drop tops. Whatever you call them, convertible cars conjure images of carefree, sunshine-filled days, hair blowing in the wind and cool breezes – all perfect for pleasant autumn days. If you’re contemplating purchasing a convertible, you’re probably already intrigued by the options and fun they can offer. Still, many first-time buyers have questions about convertible vehicles. Here’s what you need to know before you buy that shiny new drop-top:

Seasonal Concerns

Since you’ll likely want to take advantage of the convertible top, you’ll often be riding with the top down — that means the weather can be a concern. As the autumn approaches, you’ll want to keep a hat, scarf, or long-sleeved shirt around to protect from cool winds, says Saab enthusiast blog Saabism. These might also help shield you from the sun on especially sunny days. And crisp days don’t necessarily need to be a deterrent to dropping your convertible top, according to Consumer Reports. Many newer models now offer seat and neck warmers or blowing heat vents designed to keep you warm when riding with the top down. Consider your choice of interior color scheme, too – dark leathers or fabric may heat up quicker under the sun.


Convertible tops may require extra maintenance, says The sun and elements can damage tops, so consider using a cleaner designed specifically for convertibles that contains a UV protectant. Convertibles should ideally be housed in a garage or other covered parking. In all, says Edmunds, convertibles’ most significant maintenance cost will be top repairs, but auto manufacturers are constantly improving their durability and today’s soft tops last longer than in years past.

Hard- vs. Soft-tops

According to ConsumerReports, the choice between a hard or soft top is dependent upon your priorities. Hard tops are heavier and tend to be costlier but offer better protection from noise and the elements. Soft tops, meanwhile, tend to be more economical, but might allow cold or water to occasionally seep through. Still, recent improvements in both types of tops mean fewer mechanical failures and better top maneuverability and durability.


Blind spots due to small rear-windows tends to be one of the most common safety issues in both hard- and soft-top convertibles, says Edmunds. The Discovery Channel suggests inquiring about warning systems to help minimize blind spot risks. Potential owners should also ask about roll bars and crash or roll safety ratings, since convertibles are typically at a disadvantage in car accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Finally, suggests Edmunds, convertible owners should always remain aware of the dangers of a retractable roof. Cars should never be left unattended with the top down, and adequate security systems should be installed to help protect from break-ins.

Sure, summer’s over, but it’s not too late to enjoy cruising the road in a convertible this fall. Take into account your particular wants and needs from a car in certain weather conditions, and a rag-top or hard-top convertible could be a fun option — even in the crisp afternoons of autumn.

Getting Mail While Living On an RV

Your road map is in hand, the bags are packed, and you’re ready to hit the road. Your RV trip is about to begin, but did you remember all the pre-trip details? One detail you’ll want to address is your mail, particularly if bills will need to be paid while you’re gone. Here are a few alternatives to overwhelming your mailbox and ways you can get mail while living on the road.


Ask a Trusted Person: One way to keep your mailbox at home from filling up is to ask a neighbor, friend, or family member to collect your mail for you. Mail buildup can be a giveaway to criminals that your home isn’t occupied, making your home more vulnerable to invasions, according to CNN. Home security is essential while away from your permanent residence.

U.S Postal Service: Whether your plan is to take your RV on the road for a lifetime, or just a weekend, the U.S. Postal Service offers a few different options.

  • If you plan to stay long-term at a particular location, you may be able to install a mailbox so your mail can be delivered right to your RV lot. But it is also possible to have your mail delivered at the entrance if your campground permits it.
  • RV travelers can also rent a post office box at a nearby U.S Post Office. This option is great if you plan on traveling past that location frequently to pick up your mail. If you are considering this option, you should inform friends, family and companies you expect to receive mail from that you are temporarily changing your address.
  • If you don’t want to change your address and rent a post office box, another option is placing your mail on hold. Mail can be held at your local post office for up to 30 days.

Forwarding Mail Service: Whether you’re a full-time RVer, or you travel for weeks at a time, you can hire a private service to forward your mail to you while you’re on the road. Most of these services have the same process. First, you change your address to one the forwarding mail service provides. The service then sorts your mail per your request and can digitally scan your mail and email it to you, open your mail upon your approval, and even overnight your mail based your RV’s location. Communication is vital for these companies for security reasons, because they will not open your mail without your consent.

Go Electronic: About 50 percent of consumer bills are now paid online, reports The Electronics Payment Association. This means you might not even need to have mail delivered to your RV unless you want to collect personal correspondence. Opting for paperless bills will allow you to view and pay them online.

RVing on the open road offers a lot of freedoms. But you can’t leave behind all of life’s responsibilities. With these mailing options to consider, you can take your RV to the end of the road while still being accountable for your financial and personal obligations.

Ease Into Camping in Your Own Backyard

A cool breeze glides through the trees and leaves gently fall to the ground. Sounds like a perfect night for a bonfire, doesn’t it? You can take that plan one step further by camping out in the backyard with the family.


Backyard camping can be a great staycation option. And it can involve more than just roasting hot dogs over an open fire; it’s an opportunity for the whole family to learn survival skills.Tactical Intelligence shares the following tips for camping out in your own backyard.

Survival Skill 1: Pick Your Position

First, choose the area of your yard that will serve as your campsite. You can then set up your shelter. You can pitch a tent or use something as simple as a tarp for an overhead shelter. Explain to your children that during an actual camping trip, they should choose their shelter based on the environment. Factors such as the weather and presence of animals would help them make this decision. Although being in the wild is far different from camping at home, this is a great opportunity to ease first-time campers out of their comfort zones.

Survival Skill 2: Light a Campfire

A campfire allows you to cook food and stay warm. Building a backyard fire can also serve as a learning opportunity, as you figure out how to start and maintain (and later extinguish) it. But before doing so, you should check first to make sure it’s legal to do this in your area.

Survival Skill 3: A Good Meal and Water

After you create the fire, it is time to prepare your meal. You can use this as an opportunity to teach your family how to tell when various foods are fully cooked. To further use your fire, take the opportunity to show your children how to purify your water to make it acceptable for drinking. High heat allows for the water to be disinfected, which is especially important if you have collected water from a river, steam or the rain. Although heating you collected water at high temperatures may not disinfect your water completely, it may help make it more suitable for drinking.

Learning survival skills may take time to perfect. Your backyard is both a great place to practice those skills and to teach others how to prepare theirs.

Safety Recalls: What to Do if Your Car Is Recalled

When your car or any of your vehicle’s equipment has been recalled, it can make you feel worried and confused. Hearing there could be a potential safety issue with the vehicle you drive every day can be cause for concern. But, knowing what to do if your car is recalled is the first step toward feeling at ease again.


What Is a Safety Recall?

US News and World Report reported that according to data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013 alone, there were almost 22 million vehicle safety recalls. What are safety recalls, exactly? The NHTSA says a recall is when a product has a possible defect or is in noncompliance of a federal safety standard and the manufacturer has to remedy the problem for its customers. Recalls can be ordered independently by the manufacturer or the NHTSA and require the filing of a public report that includes the following information:

  • Details of the applicable vehicle/equipment and number affected
  • Description of the defect or noncompliance issue
  • What led up to the decision to recall
  • Explanation of the remedy
  • Recall schedule

After it has been determined there is a need for a recall and a report is filed, the NHTSA says that the manufacturers have to try to notify those who own the products and offer free remedies for products under 10 years old. If you think your car or vehicle equipment is part of a recall and you don’t receive notice from the manufacturer, you can do a car recall check online at or

What Can Be Recalled?

Normal wear and tear and issues that arise because of an aging vehicle are not covered under recalls. The NHTSA explains that generally only defects that present a safety threat will trigger a recall. Such defects can include, but are not limited to:

  • Defective windshield wipers
  • Malfunctioning transmission or steering equipment
  • Leaky fuel systems
  • Airbag issues
  • Broken seats or seat belts

What Do You Do When Your Car Is Recalled?

Once you find out the recall applies to your vehicle or parts, getting it fixed should be a priority. If you had already received repairs for a problem that is recalled, you may also be able to get refunded for the cost of service. According to, getting notified of the safety recall usually means the manufacturer has a solution available, which is often includes one of three things:

  • Repair: The vehicle or part will be repaired and the manufacturer will tell you where to take it and how long it will take when you receive your notification.
  • Replacement: If the problem is too large to fix, the manufacturer will provide you with a new vehicle of a similar model and give instructions for how to collect in the notification.
  • Refund: If no comparable replacements are available, the manufacturer will send a refund for the product at its current depreciated value.

In some cases when there’s a large recall, there may be a wait on a part and you may not get the problem fixed right away. If this is the case, check with the closest service center to find out if the manufacturer would fund a rental car. Sometimes if the issue is a big enough safety risk or you don’t feel comfortable driving your vehicle, the manufacturer will offer a free rental until the vehicle can be fixed.

No matter what the possible issue, if you think your vehicle is part of a safety recall, it’s a good idea to confirm and find out what your options are right away. The recall may simply be a precaution, but it may require immediate action — don’t delay in contacting the manufacturer or the suggested service center, if applicable.

Halloween Fire Safety 101

In the 2005 study “The Seasonal Nature of Fires,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency noted there is often a spike in fires on Halloween. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the spookiest night of the year a safe night for your family to enjoy.


A howling wind blowing over a pumpkin with a lit candle inside or a paper decoration placed too near the stove could take your Halloween night from spooky to downright dangerous. To help avoid a fire at your haunted house this year, you may want to check out these Halloween fire safety tips:

Spooky Jack O’ Lanterns
Cleaning out a pumpkin and carving it into a grinning Jack O’ Lantern is a time-honored Halloween tradition. And, to give their creation a cheerful glow, some people light candles and stand them inside before putting the pumpkin “lid” on—but that’s not a good idea.

Open flames always have to be carefully watched, but when that flame is contained in an easily kickable, hollowed-out pumpkin, it can pose a hazard. Instead of that votive candle or tea light, you may want to opt for one of the many alternatives, like a battery-operated LED light or a glow stick.

Dry Decorations and Candles
Obviously, dried cornstalks and open flame do not mix well. Halloween comes around harvest time, and bales of hay and straw scarecrows abound. If you want to celebrate the harvest with real dried cornstalks and hay, make sure to keep those highly flammable decorations away from open flames.

Luminaries, or paper bags with lit candles inside, also can pose a fire hazard, so you may want to consider battery-operated or electric decorations to illuminate your yard and windows.

Keep It Cool
You may not think about it, but a Halloween costume itself can pose a fire hazard. The Burn Institute offers Halloween safety tips such as purchasing only flame-retardant costumes and accessories. Also, while your little one may think Dracula should have a cape, you may want to think twice about any long, flowing fabric on your children’s costumes, which can catch fire if they come in contact with a candle. If clothing does catch fire, make sure your loved ones know how to “stop, drop and roll.”

Watch Out for Mischief
Following these tips may help you prevent accidental fires, but intentional fires are a problem on Halloween, as well. The FEMA study says the number of suspicious fires or those attributed to arson usually skyrockets around Halloween. If you notice anything suspicious on Halloween (or any other day), you should call the police.

Clear a Pathway
You may want your home to look spooky for all the little ghosts and goblins who are going to come knocking, but you also want to make sure it is safe. In addition to following safety tips in the hope of avoiding a fire, you also may want to think about providing a safe escape route in the event that one happens. The Burn Institute recommends that no decorations block your home’s exits or pathways leading away from it.

It may not always be possible to avoid a fire, but following some of these steps may help to reduce your risk. Another good idea is to make sure you are protected with an insurance policy that is right for you.

Five Keys to Packing a Healthy School Lunch

It’s back-to-school season — and while the kids embark on a year of new discoveries, parents can help fuel them by making lunch healthy and enjoyable. Forget the same old PB&J sandwiches and potato chips. Here are some ideas for healthy lunches to help introduce nutritious variety to your child’s diet.


Start With the Healthful Basics

The essential building blocks of a healthful lunch — fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and low-fat meats, according to – don’t have to be boring.

  • Low-fat dairy, for example, can be as simple as a slice of reduced-fat cheese, but spans a variety of offerings, such as fat-free (or low-fat) yogurts, cottage cheese parfaits and more.
  • When it comes to fruits, sliced apples are easy and healthful, but berries, mangos, kiwis, and other fruits can introduce new flavors to the same old lunchbox.
  • Protein alternatives include beans, hummus and leftover dinner meats, such as lean roasts or chicken.

Switch it Up

Some kids enjoy the same flavors and textures on an ongoing basis, says the American Heart Association (AHA), but many prefer greater variety in their foods. Packing a sandwich and carrot sticks every day can quickly bore kids. Instead, says the AHA, re-think classics such as the sandwich by adding a few creative twists:

  • Sammie shapes: Try using cookie-cutters to make fun, new shapes out of bread and toppings.
  • Pitas and roll-ups: Fill whole wheat pita bread or tortillas with sandwich fixings to create wraps or roll-ups in place of traditional sandwiches.
  • Protein power: Instead of deli meats, try grilled chicken, lean pork or egg white salad as alternative protein sources.
  • Flavorful fillers: Low-fat cheese is flavorful and nutritious, but other fillers, such as shredded carrots, guacamole, or hummus, can also add flavor to a sandwich.

Make It Interactive

The AHA and suggest including foods such as salads and dips that your child can partly assemble for themselves. These interactive foods can provide an added level of engagement with and enjoyment of healthful foods. Some ideas include:

  • Dip it: Pack fruit or veggie slices for dipping into yogurt, peanut butter, salsa, bean dip or hummus.
  • Dunk it: Add a few whole wheat crackers or pita chips to dunk into hot soups.
  • Toss it: Along with cut veggies, protein and salad greens, pack fun mix-ins — such as low-fat cheese cubes, pistachios or dried cranberries — separately. Allow your child to assemble the salad to his or her liking.
  • Stack it: Pack crackers, cucumbers or whole wheat bread slices for your child to top with a protein or filling of their choice.

Let Kids Choose agrees that children – especially older kids and teens – should be given some opportunity to choose their favorite healthy lunch foods. This helps kids learn how to choose nutritious foods and gives them more responsibility for their well-being. (Of course, it also helps ensure kids like – and will eat – their lunches.)

LetsMove suggests going grocery shopping with kids, focusing their attention on healthful choices. Trips to farmers markets — or even planting a small backyard garden — are other ways to help kids familiarize themselves with healthy food choices.

Keep It Safe

Food safety is an equally important component of healthful lunches, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends the following steps for ensuring your child’s food is free of harmful pathogens:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly during food preparation, and encourage your child to do the same prior to eating.
  • Invest in a thermos, insulated lunch box, and other food containers designed to keep perishable foods at their intended, safe temperatures (refrigerated items should be stored under 40 degrees, according to A frozen juice box can also double as an effective cooling device. Remember that many perishable foods, such as cold-cut sandwiches and dairy, can only be left unrefrigerated for two hours and still be safe to eat.
  • If you’re packing a paper bag lunch, consider using food items such as canned tuna, peanut butter, whole fruits and veggies, or hard cheese, in order to minimize the chance of your food spoiling.

Preparing healthful school lunches can be a fun learning experience for parents and kids, alike. With a little creativity, kids can enjoy a variety of nutritious lunch foods to fuel their learning.

How to Modify Your Towable RV for Backwoods Roads

Recreational vehicles are great for RV resorts, developed campgrounds and highways. But if you want to explore some of Colorado’s more remote areas, and you have a towable RV, you may need to consider a retrofit or two. Towable RVs include a pop-up, travel trailer, toy hauler or fifth wheel (the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association has descriptions of all types).


According to the U.S. Forest Service, 35 percent of Colorado’s land base is public (meaning it’s administered through the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management). With so much land out there to explore, you’ll want to make sure your towable RV is up to the challenge. Here’s what you need to know before you hit the open road.

Better Handling

If you’re going to routinely use unimproved roads (which range from smooth dirt or gravel roads to washboarded, rocky, pitted messes that will feel more like off-roading) to access your favorite camping spots, the ModMyRV website suggests adding adding shock absorbers, which may not be factory-included, as well as leaf spring equalizers, which is an area of suspensionthat can be subject to both wear and neglect. You want your trailer to handle bounce with limited rebound. You can find tips for making these modifications on your own from DIY sites like ModMyRV, or contact your local mechanic or service provider to discuss your options.

The Right Tires

You’ll want to choose tires for your travel trailer that will effortlessly handle the terrain you’re navigating. Mud and all-terrain tires are two options, according to Off-Road Adventures, which adds that mud tires typically feature deep, flexible tread and have the ability to self-clean, while all-terrain tires will offer better tread wear, street handling and performance on pavement. With all-terrain tires, look for ones with the Winter Tire Traction rating (“snowflake-on-mountain” symbol) on the tire’s sidewall, and make sure the tire’s construction is durable enough to resist tearing, cuts and punctures, according to the site. offers a primer for choosing the right RV tires.

Finally, don’t forget to add a generator in case you need to recharge your batteries, reheat leftovers in the microwave or run your coffeemaker, suggests Camping Life. The magazine also offers a review of the latest generation of lightweight, quiet, fuel-efficient generators, all good for backcountry use. Or, if you’re into projects, you might decide to add your own solar-energy system to recharge your power without a generator, recommends

By outfitting your RV before your next road trip, you’ll be ready to navigate Colorado’s backcountry.

4 Tire Care Tips for Driving in “Hotlanta”

There’s a reason this city has earned the nickname “Hotlanta”: Temperatures climb to average daily highs of nearly 90 degrees in July and August, according to The Weather Channel.


That kind of extreme heat can put additional stress on car tires, says Nick Palermo, automotive writer for and president of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association. With summer temperatures remaining high into September, not properly maintaining tires may contribute to an unexpected roadside emergency.

Consider these tips for taking care of your car’s tires during the dog days of summer.

1. Check the Pressure

Underinflation can lead to overheating, which can cause structural tire failure, according toPopular Mechanics.

“If you’re going on a road trip on the highway, you’re going to be generating a lot of heat inside the tires,” Palermo says.

He recommends checking pressure in the morning while internal tire temperature is still cool. The reason, Palermo explains, is that gas expands when it’s hot. As the day heats up, the air inside the tires expands, affecting the tire-pressure read.

Most vehicles typically list the optimal tire pressure number in pounds per square inch (PSI) on the driver’s side inside the doorjamb. Palermo prefers a digital or dial gauge — not a stick gauge — for the most accurate read.

2. Adjust for Temperature

If you do need to check your tires later in the day, Palermo has a few guidelines.

“If you check tire pressure when it’s already hot outside, and the recommendation is 28 PSI but your tires are at 34 PSI, you don’t want to release any of that air because you’re comparing hot versus cold,” he says.

For instance, if you check your vehicle’s tire pressure at 3 p.m. but haven’t driven yet that day, you can set the pressure at 2 PSI above what’s recommended, he suggests. “If you’ve been going 70 mph for 3 hours [and then check the pressure] you can set it at 6 PSI aboverecommended,” he adds.

3. Inspect Visually

Before hitting the road, have a quick but thorough look to make sure there’s still plenty of tread on the tires and that all four exhibit nearly equal amounts of wear.

“If you’ve been rotating your tires regularly (typically every 5,000 miles, but consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual) your wear is probably alright,” Palermo says. Also, look for bulging and/or tiny cracks in the sidewall — indicators that it’s time to replace tires, he adds.

How do you know if your tires are going “bald”? There are little bars between the treads, Palermo explains. When the tread wears down to those bars, “you’ve used up all of the life of that tire, it’s time to get a new one,” he says. Sometimes that can happen to one side of a tire and not the other, he explains.

4. Toss Out Old Tires

Something your eyes may not pick up on: aging tires that are at risk for a blowout.

“Drivers who don’t drive often may have old tires that still have good tread,” Palermo says. “But older tires tend to [decay into] dry rot and crack, causing separation of the tire’s layers, which can cause failure or blow out.”

How do you know when a tire was manufactured? Check the DOT number on its side, Palermo says.

“There’s a series of numbers that starts with ‘DOT,’” he says. “The last four of those numbers are the week and year the tire was produced. For example, ‘1313’ would be the 13th week of 2013.”

As a general rule of thumb, Palermo says 10 years is the maximum lifespan of a tire, unless it develops cracks in the sidewall before that.

“If you’re not comfortable making decisions about when to replace your car’s tires, take it into an expert,” he adds.