Check the tread on your tires with a penny.

Check the tread on your tires with a penny.

Rain, ice and snow are in the holiday forecast and Iowans who are traveling for Thanksgiving are urged to take a few minutes when filling the gas tank to check their tires.

Dan Zielinski, at the Rubber Manufacturers Association, says don’t just give one tire a kick and a glance, use a tire pressure gauge on all four of them.

“Today’s tires are constructed so well that they can be 50% underinflated and not appear flat at all,” Zielinski says. “You need a tire gauge. They only cost a couple of bucks and they fit right in the glove box.” Check the sticker inside the driver’s side door for the proper pressure. Many cars are equipped with gauges inside the tires that monitor the pressure, but they’re not always accurate.

“Almost six out of ten vehicles have at least one underinflated tire,” he says, “and that’s significant because underinflated tires can cause damage to the tire that can lead to failure.” He says you should check your tire pressure once a month and before every long trip. While you’re at it, remember to check the spare tire so it’s ready in case you need it. Also, motorists should check their tires for wear and make sure they don’t need to be replaced by doing the “penny test.”

Zielinski says, “All you do is take a penny, turn it upside-down, so Lincoln’s head points down, then put that penny into one of the tread grooves and if you can see all the way to Lincoln’s head, the top of his head, then it’s time to replace the tire.”

A recent survey shows nearly one-third of drivers do not know how to tell if their tires are bald. Bald tires can’t properly grip the road which leads to slipping, sliding and crashes.