It’s National Tire Safety Week, so if you haven’t checked your tire tread or air pressure in awhile or had your tires rotated lately, there’s no time like the present. All of those things are key to keeping your tires safe for the road and many people don’t do them on a regular basis.
In fact, government stats show only 19 percent of drivers properly check and inflate their tires. The NHTSA also says one in four cars have significantly under-inflated tires which is a big safety issue.
Under-inflated tires flex more and build-up heat that can lead to failure and an accident or blowout. The NHTSA estimates failures cause 11,000 accidents each year.
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.
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. Try the penny test. Place a penny in the tread of your tires with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire has less than 2/32 of an inches of tread and you are ready for new tires. While you’re at it, check the tire sidewalls to make sure there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.
Make sure you do not overload your vehicle.
- 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.
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.
Check out more stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by clicking the graphic below.