According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), more than half of drivers on the road don't know that one or more of their tires are bald (worn down to the point where there is almost no tread), and more than half of drivers on the road have at least one under-inflated wheel. You need to check your tires!
Tire safety is particular important during the summer, since wheels will regularly come into contact with heated road surfaces, where temperatures could easily exceed 200 degrees. Bald or underinflated tires are more susceptible to failure in such extreme conditions—the likelihood of road accidents also increases.
In order to keep drivers safe and prevent tire-related motor vehicle accidents, we offer the following tire maintenance tips, courtesy of the RMA.
How to Take Care of Your Vehicle's Tires
The RMA recommends spending five minutes at the start of every month, and again before any long driving trip, to carefully inspect each one of your car's tires—even the spare.
The tire maintenance checklist can be remembered with an easy acronym: PART.
Tires should always be checked to make sure they are optimally filled. Low inflation can put unnecessary stress on your tires, cause irregular wear, and lead to loss of vehicle control and/or a serious accident. Remember, a tire may not appear to be flat, even if it has already lost half its inflation!
Poor inflation will also affect your car’s fuel consumption. Underinflated tires lead to higher fuel costs. However, don’t overinflate thinking you’ll save on fuel! Your tires will just wear out in a different way. Use your car’s recommended tire pressure. Your vehicle's manual will inform you of the proper level of tire inflation; always check your tires when they are at rest and are not 'hot' from a drive.
If a car's alignment system is out of whack, your tires will wear unevenly and you may have difficulties handling the vehicle. A car's alignment should be checked by a dealer. Your tire’s tread will actually show whether your wheels are misaligned: if your tread is visibly more worn on one edge of your tires and not the other, it’s likely an alignment issue involving the "toe" or the "camber," or the angle at which your tires are misaligned.
Rotating a vehicle's tires on a regular basis will help achieve more uniform wear. Uniform wear extends the life of all of your car's tires, resulting in less frequent replacements or problems. Unless specifically noted otherwise, most cars should have their tires rotated every 5,000 miles. Many oil change services offer free tire rotation.
Tires with little tread have trouble gripping the road, especially in adverse conditions like extreme temperatures or slick or icy road surfaces. All tires have 'wear bars' (raised bars of rubber in the groove) on them; if a visual inspection reveals that your treads have worn down to the bars, the tire needs replacing immediately.
An easy way to check tread wear is to put a penny in one of the tire tread grooves—if you can see all of President Lincoln's head, it means the tire needs replacing. When checking tread, be sure to also examine tires for any visible signs of damage, such as embedded nails or other sharp objects that may affect tire safety.
Summer is a perfect time for road trips, long drives to the beach, and other hot spots. Just remember to think of vehicle safety before you hit the road; a nasty accident could put an abrupt and unpleasant end to seasonal fun.