Secrets of Tire Safety
Written by Greg on April 19, 2018
Think about driving down the highway at speeds of 75 to 80 miles per hour and all of a sudden you hear a loud pop. Next thing you know your vehicle starts to spin out of control as the traffic that was once far behind you begins to quickly close in.
If you only you had taken five minutes to check the tire pressure or rotated the tires before hitting the road this terrifying moment may have been avoided. You and your vehicle escape unscathed but many are not nearly as fortunate.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 11,000 tire-related crashes on our roadways every year. And under inflated tires are the overwhelming causes of these car accidents.
That’s why learning proper tire safety and maintenance practices are not critical to just you, but your loved ones and unsuspecting drivers who share the roads with you.
There are many ways to stay on top of tire safety and maintenance but here are some tips that the experts from AAA Texas, Bridgestone, Michelin and NHTSA all agree should keep you much safer on the road.
CHECK TIRE PRESSURE REGULARLY:
Most new model vehicles come equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which lights up on your dashboard when the pressure is too low in any of your tires. That requires your immediate attention.
But the TPMS is not the only way to keep track of your tire pressure and some experts also believe it isn’t the best way, either. The old stick-style pressure gauge that you apply to the tire valve is still the most reliable way to measure tire pressure. It’s suggested that everyone keep a manual gauge in their vehicle and check the tire pressure at least once a month.
While low tire pressure is the biggest cause of tire-related accidents, over inflated tires can also cause problem, as well. Tires with too much air can cause premature wear on your tire threads or bulging along the tire walls, which can lead to tire failure. Remember that the TPMS does not detected over inflated tires.
It’s best for safety and fuel consumption to maintain tire pressure at the recommended inflation for your vehicle. The recommended pressure can be found on the inside of the driver’s side door or in your owner’s manual. Check your tire pressure every 30 days and adjust the pressure accordingly.
CHECK FOR WORN THREADS:
Worn tire threads are also a major cause for tire failure on vehicles. All tires have a bar in the groove that is molded to a height of 2/32nd of inch.
If the bridge in the groove is level with the top of the thread then it’s time to change the tire. And if that is too complicated stick a penny in the groove of the tire with Abraham Lincoln’s facing you. If you can see the entire top of Lincoln’s head when the penny is placed in the groove it’s time to replace your tires.
Also check for uneven wear on your tires. This could be a sign of mechanical problems such it’s time for a wheel alignment or the suspension is worn. It’s best to have your tires rotated every 3,000 to 4,000 miles to prevent uneven wear on tires.
PERFORM REGULAR VISUAL INSPECTIONS OF TIRES:
There can be visible signs of tire problems well before the pressure drops or the threads wear down. But to detect such early problems you should regularly look over your tires or take your vehicle to a tire dealer.
Look for damage to the sidewall of the tire. You might notice a bulge in the sidewall, missing rubber or a deep abrasion from hitting the curb. A bulge in the sidewall usually means there is a broke cord inside of the tire, while a chunk out of tire bigger than a dime could mean you are headed to tire failure soon.
Also look for nails lodged into the thread of the tires. The nail may cause immediate loss of pressure but if goes unfixed a problem is sure to come about.
STAY INFORMED WITH THE DATA INFORMATION ON TIRES:
It’s not enough to buy new tires for your vehicle. You also have to stay informed.
Make certain you register your new tires so that if there is a recall or a required inspection you know immediately. Also stay appraised of reviews on the different brands of tires to see which will perform best for your vehicle.
If you follow these helpful tips not only will you have a safer experience but you will get more use out of your tire investment and will save on fuel consumption.
In terms of cars and car maintenance, most individuals do not give much thought to the age of their tires. Most of the concern is often put on the engine and other major mechanical components, as well as on general maintenance, such as ensuring the oil has been changed. However, research has also shown that the tires themselves can become extremely hazardous if they are aged.
According to a report by ABC News, car companies Ford, GM, and Chrysler “all urge motorists to replace tires that are six years of age or older because of the possibility the rubber in them could degrade and create a dangerous situation in which the tire loses its tread.”
In addition, according to Sean Kane, a safety consultant that works with state governments and local trial lawyers, “If we are thinking about a universal practice that inherently keeps you safe, six years is a good place to go.”
The problem has become so severe that many lobbyists are seeking to enact laws in eight states that would seek to require inspection of tires in order to gauge age. As noted, aging tires could potentially cause tire failures and cause loss of control resulting in injuries or even fatalities related to car accidents. This proposed legislation has been defeated by both American tire companies, as well as tire industry trade groups, such as the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
This, then, begs the question on just how safe old tires can be, or if they are extremely dangerous as outlined.
To that end, the question can be answered by substantial research. According to the NTSB Tire Symposium, “since service and storage conditions vary widely, accurately predicting the actual serviceable life of any specific tire based on simple calendar year age is not possible.”
However, in saying that the NTSB does indicate that tires age over time, but the issue remains there is no specific age which problems happen. For some tires, the potential problems may begin at six years, while for others, it may be much quicker. As noted by the NTSB the key is to look for specific signs of aging in order to gauge whether or not your tire needs replacing.
Some of these signs include:
- Physical signs of damage (cuts, cracks, bulges, vibration, etc.)
- Signs of abuse (under inflation, overloading, etc.)
- Tires, even spares, should be inspected monthly. This inspection should focus on inflation pressure, tread wear, and tire damage.
- Inspection should be supplemented by rotation, balancing, and alignment services.
- Tire condition should be assessed regularly to determine if there are any physical or visual signs of damage.
As always, if you have inspected the tire and see any signs of damage, or you can feel the roughness of the road when driving (more so than usual) it is imperative to change your tires.
Remember, even though tire age and the need to replace said tire can fluctuate pending on many different factors, it is still essential that one continually inspects and maintains their tires, replacing when necessary.
In doing so, one can prevent potential accidents from happening.