So when is the last time you thought about your tires? Well, if it’s been awhile, there is no time like the present to give them your full attention.
This week marks National Tire Safety Week, a reminder to drivers to make sure their tires are road ready for the summer. It’s a reminder most of us apparently need, too, because U.S. safety regulators say only 19 percent of drivers properly check and inflate their tires.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Tire Wise website:
Drivers put more than 2,969 billion miles on their tires each year
There are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes each year
Almost 200 people are killed in those crashes
It goes without saying, tires are key to driving safely, so keeping them in good condition and properly maintained is a must. Maintenance includes making sure tires have enough tread for grip, inspecting them for things like nails, and checking air pressure levels.
One in four cars has at least one under-inflated tire according the the NHTSA. This is not good news because low pressure can lead to accidents. In fact, NHTSA research indicates a tire that is 25 percent below its recommended pressure is almost three times more likely to be involved in a tire-related crash than a properly inflated tire.
Low tire pressure also costs drivers money in the long-term because it reduces fuel economy and makes tires wear out faster. You can check out some more factoids by clicking on the NHTSA infographic below.
Here are some tips from the National Automotive Dealers Association to make sure your tires are road ready:
- Choose your tires carefully. Too many drivers buy a tire based on initial price or appearance. Tire selection should be based on the correct size recommended for the vehicle and its load recommendations. You should consult with a knowledgeable tire or automobile dealer about selecting the proper tire for your typical driving patterns.
- Buy a tire gauge and keep it handy in your car at all times. It will inform you if you need to add more air to your tires. You can find them at any automotive retailer or supply store.
- Check your tire pressure at least once per month, and especially before a long trip. Remember, under-inflation is a tire’s No. 1 enemy, because it can cause damage that may lead to tire failure. However, overinflation can cause uneven wear plus handling and stopping problems. Use the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure listed on the sticker of your vehicle’s door jamb or owner’s manual as a guide. Always check the pressure of your tires when they are cool or cold. Driving heats up tires, making readings incorrect.
- During wet weather, slow down. As your speed decreases, the tire footprint (the amount of the tire’s tread contacting the road surface) increases, providing better traction. You also reduce the risk of hydroplaning should you run into water puddled on the road.
- Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles. If your tires show uneven wear, ask your automotive service professional to check for and correct any misalignment, imbalance or other mechanical problem involved before rotation.
- Check your vehicle alignment periodically. It’s especially important to have an automotive professional check your alignment if you notice your vehicle is pulling to one side when you’re driving.
- Inspect and measure your tire tread. You can do this yourself by placing a penny in the tread groove and if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it is time to replace your tires.
- Check the tire sidewalls to make sure there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.
- Make sure you do not overload your vehicle because it can create excessive heat inside your tires. An overloaded vehicle puts stress on tires that can cause damage and lead to tire failure. Check the manufacturer’s load recommendation, which can be found on the vehicle information placard inside the driver’s side door post, or in the vehicle owners’ manual.
Also, find your tire’s birth date. The sidewall of the tire can tell you how old your tires are. Some automobile manufacturers recommend replacing tires after six years, but as a rule of thumb any tires more than 10 years old should be replaced regardless of wear. Look for “DOT” followed by several digits—the last four numbers are the date of manufacture. So if you see 2315, that will tell you the tire was built in the 23rd week of 2015. One word of caution: Many manufacturers only put the date code on one side of the tire, as required by law, which may mean the date code may be on the inboard side of the tire, making it difficult to read.