Did people ever really kick tires?

Back in the days of model Ts, if you kicked a tire and it changed the angle of steering, the car needed mechanical work, but kicking tires is meaningless in modern cars.

You have to remember that a lot of people do certain rituals because they think they should. This is why people with no mechanical knowledge whatsoever will still raise the hood and look at the engine when their car breaks down. :wink:

I have observed the same thing, over a period of many decades.
People who never check their oil–and who couldn’t distinguish an air filter housing from a master cylinder–will raise the hood and peer at an engine that they likely never before ever gazed at.
A friend of mine sarcastically theorized that these folks expect to find a neon arrow pointing to the problem area.


Kicking tires always appeared to be a effort to look nonchalant when a salesman approached hoping to have an excited potential buyer on the hook. Not actually touching the car or peering into the windows silently says “I had nothing better to do today so I stopped here for the heck of it. BTW do you have anything worth looking at?” And long ago I saw a lot of lookers kick the tires of new and used cars.

I still kick my trailer tires before hitching it up. I can tell if they need air or not and it’s easier than putting a tire gauge on them for short trips. The stick is better and you can tell by the bounce if you need tires but gee this started in 2010.

Looking back on the comments ten years ago, I will add that I check small tires like bike, lawn mower, snow blower tires by pinching them. Rarely, like once a year will I actually check the psi.

Same here, I always kick my trailer tires prior to departure just as an added check. Found one pretty low once that way although it looked OK so now it’s habit…

Too old school i guess, I kicked the tires of the last few cars we bought, no logical reason, except maybe to let the car know who is boss, like getting married, you are not the boss.

I’ll just add that even if you are a motor (or engine) dummy, raising the hood is a universal signal that you are in trouble for all to see when they pass by. Maybe they are thinking someone will stop and help, not like the guy behind me that honked when I was stalled at a stop light with my hood up. Guess he wanted to see me push it to the side.

I had a guy honk at me today, 2 kids on bikes, thinking one did not look like he was going to look at traffic or slow down, I came to a stop, the kid sailed on through the intersection never even looking for traffic, imagine how pissed the guy would have been if I did not stop and held up traffic because I hit a guy on a bike.

Kinda doubt that.


I do not kick car tires, but a bus or truck or bus driver does kick or thump any dual wheels on their vehicle because if one of the duals is flat the other one holds it up so you can’t tell if it is flat,and up until I retired, was required to do so every two hours of the trio. I was not about to put a tire gauge on all 34 wheels of my long doubles when I was not being paid for my pre trip inspection or my every two hour inspection because it was supposed to take less than 15 minutes.

When I drove school bus, they trained drivers to use the push broom handle and thump the tread sideways to find a flat. I saw one of our drivers doing that to a steering tire on her bus. I asked her why she was doing that and she said that was what her trainer said. I told her that if that tire was flat, it would not be holding up the bus.

If you have a motor home or camper with dual wheels, you should thump your tires before every time you drive it. It could save you from destroying a perfctly good tire or burning down what you are driving.

Kicking your tires is a sure way to let the salesperson know that you know nothing about cars.

I don’t recall ever seeing anyone kick a car’s tire, whether they were interested in buying it, or for any other reason.

Folks can be a little paranoid about car-related stuff. You’ve probably seen the posts here about “way too high prices” quoted for some maintenance/service invoice, yet the prices look entirely reasonable to most of the experts here. Could be a type of paranoia that auto repair shops are always out to get you. Sometimes some of them are, true enough, but not usually.

My own dad , while he never kicked any tires as far as I know, he had a definite fear that when he changed the ignition point the little screw that holds to the points to the breaker plate would drop into the distributor. You know what? It usually did! B/c he was focussed so much on preventing that from happening his fingers tensed up. My job was to hold the flashlight while he cussed and fished the screw back out from inside the distributor … lol … Me, I wanted to avoid that scenario altogether, so I always prepared the distributor work area first by blocking off the obvious spots the screw could fall through. Never needed, in 50 years of doing this job I’ve never lot the screw; but it is comforting to know its there.

I recalling telling my dad that he overly worried about this problem. I said if the screw fell into the distributor, worse case just remove the distributor, turn it upside down and shake the screw out. His reply: “George! If we remove the distributor the engine may never run again.” … lol …

Actually I still do. After a period of time of not using it, I just give the trailer tires a kick to judge the pressure. Doesn’t tell you exactly, but you know it isn’t at 20 psi. You have seen the truckers take a billy club to their tires? Same principle. You can tell by the bounce. Not sure what the purpose would be on a used car though. If you were going to buy it, usually first stop is at the tire shop for a new set.

I always thought the reason people said they kicked tires was to check if the wheel bearings are overly loose. Seems to me if there’s a problem w/the wheel bearings, that’s a simple enough problem to fix, not worth spending time worrying about. Better to focus on problems that could be deal breakers, like low engine compression.

That seemed to be standard practice with the truckers who filled up with diesel at our station.

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As The Good Reverend Would Say (Independence Day ID4) - YouTube

Sure I kick tires, just an easy way to ignore all the salesmens blather.

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