For the second time in a week, I spent a chunk of time at our local military base’s automotive repair shop.  This time, I got new tires for our van.  Yee-ha!  I don’t feel like I’m driving the Clampett-mobile any more!  No bumpy ride, no nervous stomach.  I’m a new woman.

My husband is a gifted mechanic; he has been badgering me for a while now to get all the tire problems fixed.  (He’d do it, but he’s currently Serving Our Country, which turns out to be way more time-consuming than you might imagine.)  I know from experience that proper tire maintenance and regular replacement are key to keeping your car in good working order.  You get better gas mileage.  You travel more safely, especially in bad weather.  You don’t worry about sudden thunderstorms (see “travel more safely” in the previous sentence).

The hard part is finding decent tires at decent prices, especially if you’re like us and drive older vehicles.  Do you need 70,000-mile tires for a van with over 100,000 miles on it?  (Probably not.)  Do you need cool-looking tires if you only drive to Wal-Mart and the school parking lot?  (You decide.)

What you do need is safe, functional tires.

How to tell?  Grab a penny.  Head out to your car.  Stick the penny into the grooves in the tread in a few places, holding it so Abraham Lincoln’s face is upside-down (head-first into the groove).  If you can see the top of Abe’s head, it’s probably time for new tires. 

Your car will thank you.