(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The West Texas heat wave is leading people to find ways to stay cool.
The heat can also cause damage to something many people take for granted — the tires on their vehicles. Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology program is teaching students ways to keep their tires properly maintained during the summer months.
“The most important thing to remember is to keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure,” said Angel Ruvalcaba, a TSTC student from Abilene. “If the pressure is too low, it could ruin the sidewall of your tire and explode.”
Ismael Islas, a TSTC student from Roscoe, said a higher pressure can also be dangerous.
“If the pressure is too high, the tire will expand. This is because as temperatures rise, air expands,” he said. “The higher pressure can lead to the tire exploding.”
Ruvalcaba said many vehicles are equipped with sensors to alert drivers when tire pressure is low. He advised that these sensors can be inaccurate.
“Most newer vehicles are equipped with sensors to let you know the air pressure,” he said. “That is a good thing to have, but it could be deceiving. I always like to check my pressure with the tire gauge. They are always a reliable tool to let you know the current tire pressure.”
Islas said motorists should know the proper psi (pounds per square inch) of air pressure for their tires. Both students recommended not overfilling tires.
“That would run the risk of blowing your tire,” Ruvalcaba said.
Islas said the proper psi is located on the tire’s sidewall.
“And it usually will tell you what the not-to-exceed level is as well,” Ruvalcaba said.
If a tire is low, Islas said you can easily check for leaks by putting some soap and water on it. If bubbles form from inside the treads, the tire has a leak.
“It is the best and easiest way to check for a leak,” he said.
Ruvalcaba offered another tip for motorists.
“Always keep a small air compressor in your car,” he said. “There are many brands that will plug into the vehicle. It will help you on the side of the road if you have a flat.”
The need for qualified automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas employs more than 55,000 of these technicians around the state, and that number was forecast to top 61,000 by 2030. The website stated that the average annual salary for a technician in the state is $44,810.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates, including Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, Chrysler Specialization and Tesla START Technician, are also available depending on campus location.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.