How to Change a Car Tire

Tire Change

Remember when you were a kid and the family piled into the station wagon to go on a road trip? Somewhere near the Tennessee border your dad reached into the backseat to quiet down the kids, hit the shoulder, and busted a tire. As he fixed it, traffic howling past, he told you to watch. He said, “One day you’ll need to know how to do this.’” But you were busy trying to catch a Minnesota plate to complete a three-in-a-row on license plate bingo, so you could beat your sister.

Flash forward to today, and you wish you had watched your father—because now you really need to know how to change a tire. You got a flat and that Minnesota tag of yesteryear isn’t helping at all.

What tools do I need?

It’s always easier to do a job when you have the right tools. When it comes to changing a tire, there are a few things you need.

  • You need a jack. Your vehicle came with a jack. It’s a simple device that you crank to raise your vehicle so you can remove the flat tire and put on a spare. One thing you may want to keep in mind: factory jacks are not the greatest. What your car comes with is the most basic of tools. If you want to purchase a more heavy-duty jack, or one that is easier to use, you can purchase one from $25 to $100. If you’re prone to hitting curbs and popping tires, a good jack might be a solid investment.
  • You need a tire iron. Again, your car came with this. It’s used to loosen your tire’s lug nuts, the large screws that keep it attached to the wheel. One tip: Get the lug nuts started before you jack up the car, while it is still stable on the ground. Removing them can take some leverage and you don’t want to push your car off the jack. Some vehicles will have a key to unlock your lug nuts to prevent theft. Your owner’s manual will have specific instructions for your vehicle.
  • You need a spare tire. This is the “donut” in your trunk. It is important to remember that spare tires are not rated like normal tires. You should not drive on them long or quickly. In fact, some people purchase a full-size spare, a tire just like those on your car. Whether or not this is right for you depends on your budget and if your trunk can accommodate a full-size tire. Trucks or SUVs often have space available for a full tire.

How do I change the tire?

  • Pull over in a safe spot. Remember when your dad stopped on the side of the Interstate? Don’t do that. Get yourself to a safe place with limited traffic and turn on your hazard lights.
  • Loosen the lug nuts. After you get all the tools out of your trunk, loosen the lug nuts. You don’t want to take them all the way off, but you want to get them started.
  • Jack up your car. Consult your owner’s manual to see where you should put the jack. Every car is different. If you put it in the wrong place, it could hurt your vehicle…or, worse, collapse and hurt you. You want to raise the car until the tire is 6 inches off the ground.
  • Replace the tire. Remove the bad tire and put on your spare. When you put on the new tire you want to tighten the lug nuts so the tire is in a proper position before lowering the vehicle.
  • Lower the vehicle. Put the car back on the ground. Take your time and, even though you’re almost done, stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Tighten lug nuts. When the car is on the ground, tighten the lug nuts all the way. The DMV recommends that you tighten 50% on one then move to the opposite lug nut (across the circle), and so on until all are tightened. When everything is as tight as you can get it, pack all your tools and the bad tire back up in your trunk.

Your tire experts are here to help.

After you change a tire, contact your local Chapel Hill Tire. We can give you an estimate on a new tire or see if the tire that went flat can be repaired. Again, we don’t want you driving around on a factory spare for long. It’s there to help you get to a safe location, not as a replacement for your regular tire. All you have to do is request an appointment and we’ll give you a hand. With 5 locations around the triangle, Chapel Hill Tire is poised to help you with all of your car care needs.

How to Make Your Car More Green

Green Car

Everyone is trying to go green these days, and we don’t mean they’re dressing up in shades of grass and clover. We’re talking about a prevailing desire to reduce our carbon footprint. It’s a topic of conversation on the news and a popular principle among our clients. That’s why we want to help you go green. Below are a few simple tips that can make your car more Earth-friendly and help you reduce that footprint.

1. Carpool

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to travel is to share transportation or carpool. Reducing the number of cars on the road is a great way to decrease the level of carbon emissions. This will also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle. Putting fewer miles on your car means fewer trips to the shop for maintenance and tires.

2. Drive more smoothly

How you drive your car can reduce its impact on the environment. Carbonfund.org recommends drivers accelerate gently, obey speed limits, drive at consistent speeds and anticipate stops. They even say that driving better can reduce the your gas usage by as much as 30%. Imagine having a third less of an impact on the globe just by paying attention to how you drive!

3. Get regular maintenance

When your car drives more efficiently, it creates less of an impact on the environment. This means you need to change your filters, keep your car well tuned and obey factory recommendations. If every car on the road ran as it should, global emissions would certainly drop. It’s the gunk and grime that contributes to those black clouds we often see tailpipes spitting at stoplights.

4. Check your tire pressure

We have talked about tire pressure on this blog a number of times. Having properly inflated tires can dramatically improve your gas mileage and, like regular maintenance, make your car run more smoothly. A smoother car is a greener car.

5. Shop local

You can decrease your carbon footprint by reducing the number of miles you travel. This means shopping local. Visit your neighborhood stores for regular shopping trips and when your car needs maintenance, don’t drive across town. Choose one of 5 convenient area Chapel Hill Tire locations for your service needs. You can even make an appointment online to save yourself some trouble.

5. Drive a hybrid

Each year more hybrids hit the market — and these cars require special attention. At Chapel Hill Tire, we are experienced in the unique maintenance requirements of your hybrid engine. We abide by stringent requirements to make you maximize your sustainability efforts and keep your car running smoothly for a long time. If you’ve committed to driving more sustainably, choose Chapel Hill Tire for your next vehicle check up.

Chapel Hill Tire can help you lessen your carbon footprint

A well maintained vehicle is a more environmentally conscious vehicle. So trust Chapel Hill Tire to help you get the most of your gas money and reduce your impact on the globe. We are committed to helping you get the services you need, when you need them, to help you avoid issues down the road and save money in the long run.

If you want to talk more about how car care plays a role in sustainability, give us a call. We’re happy to hear about the vehicle you’re driving and talk through ideas for making it more efficient.

Is Your Car Cruising on Crooked Skis?

Alignment Inspection

Is your car pulling one way or another when you’re driving? Do you feel an unusual or harsh vibration? Are your tires wearing unevenly? If so, your car may be out of alignment.

Alignment relates to the suspension of your car. Your suspension determines how tires come in contact with the road. Often people assume alignment is directly related to the tires, as this is where you feel bad alignment when you’re driving. But think of it like this: if you are skiing and your skis are pointed inward, sideways, or spreading wide, the skis are not broken; rather, it’s your legs and knees, your shocks or struts, throwing everything off.

Three terms to know when talking alignment

When it comes to alignment there are three things to keep in mind: toe, camber and caster. Each of these terms defines a different way in which the tires can be out of alignment. Let’s keep our skis on and carve further into each term.

Toe

Toe is simple if you’re looking down at your skis. There is toe in, and toe out. Like your feet, the tires can be slightly pointed toward or away from one another. Toe in will wear the tires on the outside and toe out on the inside. Think about skiing with your toes pointed toward one another: snow will build up on the outside as the skis scrape, which is similar to how a tire might wear on the outside.

Camber

Now, still on your skis, gently cruising down the mountain, try to touch your knees together. This is like having negative camber, as everything is folded in and the top of the tires point toward one another. If the camber of your car is off, it will cause tires to wear oddly and affect how the car handles.

Some finely-tuned sports cars use negative camber to improve handling. But if you’re driving to and from soccer practice, you don’t need to hug the neighborhood curves.

Caster

Caster relates to the vertical angle of your suspension. A positive caster angle means the top of the suspension is back, and negative is when the top of the suspension is tilted forward. This affects how your car performs and handles. If the caster is off, it’s like your skis have drifted out in front of your torso and now you’re leaning back while moving forward. This is not an efficient way to get down the mountain and it is equally troublesome for a car. When the caster is off your car may act irregularly at higher speeds — exactly when you need it to drive true.

Call on Chapel Hill Tire for all your alignment needs

Your alignment may get knocked off any number of ways. If you hit a big bump, drive on worn-down tires, jump a curb or get in a high-speed chase — we’re kidding! Please don’t! — you can knock your alignment out of whack.

If you think your alignment may be off, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Bad alignment can lead to increased labor costs or, worse, accidents down the road. Chapel Hill Tire specializes in tire service. We can help you recognize an issue and get it repaired before it grows into something more significant. So if your car is pulling one way or the other or your tire treads look uneven, make an appointment today. We’ll get you in, out and on with your life.

A Ride Through Time: Cars from the 1950’s through the 2000’s

Chapel Hill Tire History

In 1954, post-war America was roaring into the boom years. More families than ever before were able to afford family cars. It was a bold decade filled with bold vehicles, chrome-decorated luxury machines that reflected all the optimism and progress of the ‘50s. Suddenly, everything was shiny!

More cars meant more need for quality, trustworthy, affordable car service. So along came Chapel Hill Tire— and we were glad to oblige.

The world, and its cars, may have moved on in the 60 years since our inception, but we’ve continued to provide the same stellar service throughout the years. As cars changed — and boy, did they change! — our expertise kept up.

Let’s take an automobile retrospective, starting in the glory days of Detroit and moving right on up through Chapel Hill Tire’s fleet of hybrid future machines.

1950s

1950s Car

A rising middle class wanted nicer vehicles, and the car industry obliged. Turn signals, for instance, changed from a luxury add-on to factory model standard, and the independent suspension became common. However, safety wasn’t yet a huge concern: cars didn’t even have seatbelts!

1960s

1960s Car

The same decade that brought the world a counter-cultural revolution also introduced the cars that would become the icon of all things America: the Ford Mustang.

You can see that chrome was still important, but car designs got sleeker — the ‘60s introduced the concept of the compact car, an important part of the design of this decade’s infamous muscle cars.

1970s

1970s Car

As car sales skyrocketed through the ‘50s and ‘60s, so did car-related deaths. The industry tried to aggressively address the problem by the 1970s, introducing four-way anti-skid systems (you know them as anti-lock brakes) and airbags (although these didn’t become standard until the Porsche 944 of 1987). As fuel prices rose, aerodynamic designs became more important, and cars began to look straight out of the space age!

But innovative as they were, the ‘70s were nearly the death of American automobile manufacturing. The “Big Three” American automakers — General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler — began to be crowded out of their own market by cheaper, more fuel-efficient imported cars, particularly the Japanese. It was the age of the Toyota, and its influence hasn’t left us yet.

1980s

1980s Car

The era of strange hair also brought with it a strange car: the DeLorean DMC-12, made famous in Michael J. Fox’s Back to the Future. It sported stainless steel panels and wings for doors, and it perhaps personified that strange decade better than any other vehicle around.

Car engines also got a reboot as electronic fuel injectors replaced carburetors, in part to comply with federal emissions standards.

1990s

1990s Car

Two words: electric cars. Although designs for electric cars have been around for a century, the Clean Air Act of 1990 spurred car manufacturers to develop cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars. However, these cars were still cost-prohibitive, and they tended to have limited range. We needed better solutions.

2000s

 

2000s Car

Enter the hybrid. As the whole world began to become aware of environmental issues, hybrid cars — cars with both electric and gasoline engines — burst onto the scene. Their popularity began with the Toyota Prius, the first hybrid four-door sedan released in the U.S. market. The future really was here.

At Chapel Hill Tire, we were early adopters of hybrid technology. We were the Triangle’s first certified independent hybrid service center, and we have an entire fleet of hybrid shuttles for your convenience. And, more importantly than that — we just plain love cars. Make an appointment online and see for yourself what half a century’s experience can do for you!

Making the Most of your Gas Mileage

Gas Milage

You can maximize your gas mileage, or the number of miles your car can travel on a full tank of gas. The higher this number, the less frequently you’ll have to fuel your car, and the less money you’ll spend on gas.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends a few effective tricks for keeping your miles-per-gallon high and your costs low. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these benefits are minimal; they can significantly improve your savings!

Maintain your engine.

Before you do anything else, take your car in for a check-up. You may be unaware of certain maintenance issues that are affecting your gas mileage. For instance, does your car have a rough idle? Do you ever hear it pinging? Then you may have a faulty oxygen sensor. This tiny little part might be costing you as much as 40% of your engine’s efficiency.

Clogged air filters are another common malady, one your technicians at Chapel Hill Tire will check during regular maintenance. A dirty air filter can decrease gas mileage by as much as 10%.

Fuel injectors and fuel systems also become clogged over time with carbon deposits. This reduces the efficiency of your engine. The pros at Chapel Hill Tire can provide a fuel/air induction service that will improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and restore power.

Inflate your tires properly.

Did you know that tire inflation changes depending on the tires you have, how much driving you have done, and the weather? Most people don’t, so they don’t check to make sure their tires are inflated to the proper psi (pounds per square inch). Your engine has to work harder to push the car down the road when the air pressure is low. Properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by more than 3%.

So check your tires’ recommended tire pressure, and check regularly to make sure you’re not losing air pressure. The maximum tire pressure for a tire is printed on the tire’s sidewall, but don’t inflate the tire to that amount; it’s not calibrated to your specific vehicle. Instead, check your owner’s manual and find out what your manufacturer recommends.

For even more efficient performance, we recommend inflating your tire with nitrogen. Nitrogen helps your tires maintain air pressure more consistently over time and across different temperatures.

Use the right oil.

Oil lubricates metal parts in your engine, helps clean it, and transfers heat to keep your engine cooler. Not all motor oil is made equal; it comes in different grades, or measures of viscosity. When you touch motor oil and it feels thick and sticky on your hand, it’s high viscosity; when your fingers slide more easily, it’s lower viscosity.

Using the correct oil for your vehicle creates a more efficient environment in your engine. For instance, if you’re using oil that isn’t viscous enough to fully cushion moving parts, you’ll experience greater engine wear. On the other hand, your car may require a less viscous oil, and if you use the wrong grade engine parts will experience too much friction to move efficiently. This lowers your gas mileage — sometimes by as much as 2%.

These few tricks will go a long way toward keeping both your car and your bank account happy. If you spend a little time on them, you’ll see a big result!

How to Spot Bad Brakes

Spot Bad Brakes

Here’s a driving nightmare: You’re in stop-and-go traffic on the interstate, and suddenly, you’re less stop and more go. You rear-end the car in front of you, causing irritating bumper damage to both of you and, embarrassingly, a pile-up on the highway that has passing motorists behind you scowling and honking. A lot. What happened?

Your brakes happened. They’re failing, and as bad as your situation is, it’s a really good thing you found out about the problem while traveling at only 3 miles an hour.

Don’t let this be you. Be on the lookout for worn-out brakes, and take your car in for convenient brake services at Chapel Hill Tire as soon as you spot any warning signs.

Brake Warning Signs

Thin brakes pads

Brakes pads squeeze against a rotor located in the front wheels, providing the friction that stops your car. If they’re too thin, they can’t squeeze with enough force to brake your car properly. Luckily, you can do a visual inspection and spot thin brake pads. Look between the spokes in your wheel; the pad is a flat metal plate. If it looks less than ¼” thick, it’s time to take the car in.

Squealing sounds

A small metal piece called an indicator is designed to make a really irritating noise when your brake pads are wearing out. If you’ve ever heard a high-pitched screech as you depress the brake pedal, you’ve probably heard the indicator’s warning cry. (Rust over your brake pads may also cause this noise, but it’s hard to tell the difference, so you should assume the worst.) As soon as you hear the indicator, make an appointment for an inspection.

Poor performance

This one’s simple; if your brakes aren’t working well, they’re failing. You’ll feel this in the brake pedal itself, because it will depress further than normal toward the floor before your car stops. This may indicate a leak in your brake system, either an air leak from the hose or a fluid leak from the brake lines.

Vibration

Your brake pedal can talk to you in other ways; if it begins to vibrate, especially at times when the anti-lock brake system is not engaged, it’s time to make an appointment. This is probably (though not always) a sign of warped rotors, which may need “turning,” a process by which they are evened.

Puddles on the driveway

A small puddle underneath your car may be another sign of a leaking brake line. Touch the fluid; it looks and feels similar to fresh motor oil, but it’s less slippery. If you suspect your brake fluid is leaking, take your car for service immediately. This problem will compound quickly as you lose more fluid.

Pulling

Sometimes you’ll feel your car try to move off to the side of the road when you brake. If braking doesn’t produce even results on both sides of your car, your brake pads may be wearing unevenly, or there may be a blockage in your brake fluid line.

Loud metallic sounds

If your brakes start to sound like an ornery old man, watch out! Grinding or growling sounds are serious trouble. They occur when your brake pads are completely worn out, and they indicate damage to the rotor. Unless you catch the problem quickly, your rotor may need an expensive repair, so drive your car right in to the shop!

Warning lights

Two warning lights on your car may indicate brake problems. One is the anti-lock brake light, indicated by a red “ABS” inside a circle. If this light comes on, there may be a problem with one of the anti-lock brake sensors. You can’t fix this problem on your own. If the light stays on, take the car in.

The second is your brake light. On some cars, this is simply the word ‘Brake;’ on some, it is an exclamation point within two brackets. Sometimes this light indicates a simple issue with your parking brake, which may be engaged while you’re driving. This one’s an easy fix. However, if the light stays on, it may indicate a more severe problem: an issue with your brake fluid. The hydraulic pressure that activates your brakes may be uneven, or the brake fluid may be low. These problems can be dangerous, so if your brake light stays on, make a service appointment.

One note: if both the brake light and the ABS light come and stay on, stop driving your car! This indicates imminent danger in both of your brake systems.

With these warning signs in mind, you can keep your brakes ship-shape and minimize your collision risk on the road.

When to Change Your Tires

tires

Chapel Hill Tire is a full-service car care center, but — it’s all in the name! — we also specialize in tires. We want every driver on the road to travel safely, and that means having fully-inflated, balanced tires that grip the road, keep traction in the rain, and hug those turns at speed. You should regularly inspect your tires for signs of wear, and take your car in for a makeover as soon as you catch sight of a problem.

So what kinds of issues are you looking for?

1. Worn tread

The groove pattern on your tires is called your tread, and it’s a crucial part of their design. Substances of all kinds — gases, liquids, and solids — travel between your tires and the road. Never thought of it that way? Remember, your tires travel through or over three substances: air, water, and ice or snow. Each of them interrupts your tires’ traction.

Tread offsets that problem. Substances travel through the tread and are channeled away from your tires, allowing the body of the tire to keep contact with the road.

However, each substance travels differently. Liquids and solids require more time and more energy to move through your tread. This means that tires with worn tread are more likely to hydroplane in the rain, snow or ice. It’s a dangerous situation for both you and other drivers!

The legal minimum tread depth is 2/32”. You can measure this depth approximately with the “penny test;” insert a penny, head first, into the tread of your tires. Can you see the top of Honest Abe’s head? Then your tread is too worn.

However, some experts recommend that you replace your tires at approximately 4/32”, well before they reach legal minimum. Don’t just rely on the penny test; make an appointment to get your tires inspected if you even suspect they’re getting a little gray around the temples!

2. Cracks

Tires are made of rubber, and just like rubber bands, they lose elasticity over time. This transition to a more brittle state leads to cracks. If your tire is cracked, you’ll know it with a visual once-over. You could find a crack at any point on a tire’s surface, including the sidewalls: the parts of your tire that don’t touch the road. Don’t ignore them in your inspection.

Tire cracks are very dangerous. They expose the underlying structure of tires, making them vulnerable to erosion, which will eventually lead to a blowout. The last thing you want is to lose a tire while you’re heading down the highway at speed — you will quickly lose control of your vehicle, and the possibility of an accident is very high. Avoid this emergency situation by monitoring your tires as they age, and bringing your car in for a tire service at any sign of a problem.

3. Bulges or bubbles

Just like cracks, bulges or bubbles in your tires indicate an imminent emergency. They are caused by air escaping from a hole or tear in the inner liner of your tire, usually due to impact. This impact doesn’t have to be major — you may bump a curb or speed through a pothole and think little of it without noticing that it was, in fact, a big deal to your tires.

If the inner liner of your tire is damaged, fewer layers are protecting it from a blowout. Bring your car in for a repair or a new tire immediately if you notice an uneven tire surface.

Stay safe out there, and remember: Chapel Hill Tire is here to serve all your tire needs!

How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

Car Prep

In the land of purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain, road trips are as much a fall tradition as carving pumpkins and baking apple pies. There’s a lifetime’s worth of exploring to do in America, and when the refreshing fall air kicks in and the leaves start changing, many families take an opportunity to explore the great outdoors!

But like any major endeavor, a road trip needs some preparation! After all, you’re relying on one thing to get you hither and yon — your trusty metal steed. (That’s your car, of course.) If a tire blows or your radiator overheats, you could be in for some unpleasant scenery as you wait for rescue by the side of the highway. A tow-truck ride is a dispiriting end to an otherwise delightful vacation day!

So before you set out, sit down and make a list. What do you need to do to prepare your car for a road trip?

1) Make sure you have a roadside assistance kit.

Start with the worst-case scenario first. If you do break down by the side of the road, you’ll need to be prepared to wait as long as it takes to get help — even if that’s overnight. Make sure your phone is charged before you set out, that you have a car charger, and that you have what you need in case of a roadside emergency. Your kit should include staples like a first-aid items, a flashlight, gloves and a tire iron, as well as items you may not normally think about, like a space blanket (no, really! Check them out!) and road flares.

2) Inspect your tires.

Whatever you do, don’t start a road trip with worn-out tires. It’s dangerous, not just to you, but to other drivers on the road. If you see cracking, bulges or bubbles on the sidewall, that’s a warning sign. So is a thin tread. (Measure this by putting a penny into the tread, head first. Can you see Lincoln’s head? Then it’s time for a change.) Depending on how long a road trip you’re planning, the miles you put on your old tires might just mean the end of the line for them. Don’t chance it — get ahead of the problem before you start your trip, and get new tires if you need them.

3) Properly inflate your tires.

This one seems simple, but you’d be surprised how often people forget to do it. Before you start out, get your tire pressure gauge (you do have one, right?), and check the air pressure in your tires. If your tires came with your car from the factory, the recommended air pressure will probably be included in your car owner’s manual. If they’re low, fill the tires up to the correct pressure. This will ensure that all tires are operating evenly, so that you don’t experience alignment problems as your road trip continues.

4) Check all your fluids.

Most people remember to check their oil, but how about checking the rest of your fluids? Coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and window-washing fluid are all vital parts of your car’s operation. (Okay, so window-washing fluid isn’t vital, exactly, but it sure is convenient to have when you’re rolling down a beach road being peppered by bugs.) Make sure all your fluids are properly topped off. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, no problem — it’s an easy, quick fix at Chapel Hill Tire!

5) Check your windshield wipers.

If you’ve noticed streaks on your windshield the last few times it’s rained, you probably need new wipers. Not sure? It’s good to double-check. Pick up each wiper and look for signs of discoloration, cracking or jagged edges on the rubber of the wiper blade — the part that actually contacts the windshield. If you need new wipers, don’t wait until you’re at the top of that majestic mountain pass in a thunderstorm to find out! You can replace them easily yourself, or let the experts at Chapel Hill Tire do the job!

Have you done these five things? Then pack your car and turn up the radio, because it’s time for some road-trip fun! Chapel Hill Tire hopes that wherever your wandering heart takes you, you have a blast — and do it safely!

What’s That Horseshoe? It’s Your Low Pressure Light!

Tire Pressure

Most people are familiar with their most important warning lights. It’s hard not to — when your dashboard lights up in bright red, it’s pretty clear that something’s wrong, and you need to figure out what!

But there are less well-known warning lights that, while they may not indicate impending emergencies, are still important to recognize and respond to quickly. Some of them make a lot of sense — a yellow “check engine” light means, of course, to take your car in and have a mechanic check your engine — but some aren’t as intuitive. For instance, the little yellow horseshoe with an exclamation point in the middle. What does that thing mean?

It’s your low tire pressure light, and it means the air is low in one or more of your tires. You may be losing air quickly through a puncture, a problem you’ll need to address immediately. But even if you’re not facing an emergency situation, it’s a good idea to stop and refill flagging tires as soon as possible. Uneven pressure makes your tires wear differently from each other, which in the long run can lead to vehicle instability.

Tire Pressure and Temperature

It’s intuitive that leaks in your tire can cause low air pressure, but that’s not the most common reason for air pressure problems. The weather outside your tire affects the pressure inside. Hot temperatures increase air pressure; cold temperatures decrease it.

Why? Because of contraction. Hot air expands, but cold air contracts. If your air pressure has been set during hot summer months, the air in your tire will lose volume when fall comes. If it was set in the winter, vice versa. In both cases, your air pressure light will probably come on.

Nitrogen-filled Tires

One way to account for this weather-induced air pressure change is by filling your tires with pure nitrogen, rather than with simple air. Although air contains around 80% nitrogen, that extra 20% makes a big difference. Nitrogen still responds to changes in temperature, but it doesn’t lose or gain as much volume as air does. Why? Water.

Oxygen easily combines with hydrogen to form water. There is always ambient moisture in the air, and no tire pump can account for it fully. Every time you fill your tires with air, moisture gets in. This vapor expands in the heat. Nitrogen-filled tires do not support moisture, so they will expand less than air does, causing less pressure fluctuation.

The moisture problem also causes corrosion inside your tire, contributing to overall tire wear. The water can freeze, causing damage inside the tire rubber. Nitrogen prevents this problem, giving your tires a longer life and saving you money.

There’s one more reason to use nitrogen: it leaks less! Rubber may seem solid from our perspective, but like anything else, it’s mostly space at the microscopic level. Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules; pure nitrogen has a harder time escaping through the rubber.

Chapel Hill Tire can fill your tires with nitrogen for an affordable price, ensuring that they stay happy and your air pressure stays more even. You’ll see that funny horseshoe less with a nitrogen fill service.

Expert Tire Service at Chapel Hill Tire

You may have guessed it from the name, but we’ll tell you anyway — Chapel Hill Tire specializes in tire service. We can fill your tires, check your air pressure, patch leaks, fix flats, and fill you up with nitrogen, all for lower prices than you’ll find at any dealership. If your air pressure light comes on — or any other light, for that matter — just make an appointment and come on in. We’ll get you back on the road in no time, warning-light free.

All About State Inspections

State Inspection

Getting a state inspection is like going to the dentist. It’s something you need to do once a year; it’s a hassle even in the best of times; and there are consequences for failing to follow through with it. No one wants a cavity — and no one wants a hefty fine!

Why are there such costly repercussions for failing to have your car inspected? Because without a state inspection, you can’t register your vehicle. And without a registration, you’re driving against the law, just waiting to get caught and ticketed. Legally, a little absent-mindedness can take you a long way down the wrong road.

State Inspections: An Environmental Concern

State inspections have been around since a voluntary safety program enacted in Massachusetts in 1926. (That’s close to 90 years ago, for those counting!) Since then, vehicles have obviously progressed — and so have inspections. Most people know that inspections cover safety standards. But they are also designed to check emissions standards. — regulations that protect the environment by ensuring that vehicles are not polluting the air. All that exhaust coming from your car’s exhaust pipe will turn into acid rain and air pollution if it’s not controlled. That’s why inspections exist.

The most recent vehicle emissions standards established in North Carolina were a result of the Clean Smokestacks Act in 2002. This legislation, while primarily aimed at coal plants, also required a reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxide. Nitrous oxide is in your car’s exhaust, and it’s a primary pollutant in North Carolina. In order to keep North Carolina’s air quality up to federal standards set under the federal Clean Air Act of 1990, the state must regulate it.

Keeping the Roads Safe

Emissions standards are federally regulated, but state safety inspections are a state’s prerogative. And like states themselves, state inspection laws can differ in quirky ways. Here in North Carolina, for instance, cars 35 years old or older don’t have to be inspected!

So what are safety inspections checking? A number of systems. Your brakes, headlights, accessory lights, turn signals, steering and windshield wipers are among them. If you have a Check Engine light on, then one of our ASE certified technicians will need to diagnose and fix the problem before your car can pass. Safety inspections are just designed to keep you safe; they keep other drivers safe. If your brake lights don’t work and someone plows into you from behind, both of you could be hurt!

Licensed Independent Inspection Stations

In some states, inspections are required to be done in governmental inspection stations. North Carolina, however, licenses independent inspection stations — and Chapel Hill Tire is one of them! Next time that registration renewal rolls around, you’ll know where to go.