The Importance of Tire Safety

You may take tire maintenance for granted, but you really shouldn’t. Your car’s tires actually affect maneuverability, fuel economy, riding comfort, braking distance, and tire life. More important, your tires could cause a wreck and serious injuries. The following article is intended to inform you on why it’s important to maintain your tires, and what the dangers are if you don’t.

Why is it Important Check My Tires?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that faulty tires are responsible for 8,000 traffic collisions each year. In fact, the NHTSA also concluded that the majority of debris on the side of roads are pieces of blown out tires. People tend to think that over filling their tires with air is what causes tires to blowout, but this is not always true. Lack of tire pressure is what causes most tires to blow out.

This is because when tires do not have enough air in them, too much of the tire’s surface area touches the road. When there is more contact between the road and the tires, the friction will make your tires overheat and blow out. What makes this situation even more dangerous, is that one tire blowing out can cause your other tires to blow out too. Flying debris from one blown out tire can easily puncture one or more of your other tires and the sudden uneven distribution of weight also can cause the other tires to overheat and give out.

Over-inflating tires can also be dangerous. Over-inflating reduces traction and can make your car “bounce around” on the road. Over Inflation also reduces comfort of the passengers because your tires absorb less of the impact of all the bumps and holes in the road. Tires that are over inflated will make it much more difficult to come to a stop or to control your vehicle.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the tread on your tires hasn’t worn down. Worn tread will affect the handling of your car, and could increase the risk of a crash. Without enough tread, your tires will have less traction which will increase braking distance and hinder maneuverability.

How do I Check My Tires?

Checking tires is not very difficult, and most auto mechanics check tires for free when you take your car in for maintenance.

First, determine the optimal air pressure for your tires. Some people fill their tires to the number that is printed on the side of the tire, but this is incorrect. The number printed on the side of the tire is actually the maximum amount of air the tire can safely hold according to the manufacturer. You should not fill your tire past this number. The actual amount of air that you should pump into your tires can be found in a few different places, look for the proper amount in:

  • Your car’s owner manual might tell you what your tire’s air pressure should be or where to look to find it.
  • Inside of the glove box might be a sticker that tells you proper air pressure for your tires.
  • The space where the driver side door and door-colum meet, near the latching mechanism, might be a sticker that tells you the proper air pressure for your tires.
  • If all else fails, you should be able to find the proper air pressure for your tires by searching for it online.

Second, check the pressure in your tires. You’re going to need a pressure gauge for this step. When you check tire pressure, make sure that you have not driven the car for a few hours in order to get an accurate reading. If you need to travel somewhere to check your air, then make sure you will not have to drive more than a mile to get there. Once you have a gauge and are ready to check the tire pressure, place the mouth of the gauge over the air valve of your tires and press firmly. A little air will leak from your tires at first, but if you fasten your gauge properly then the sound of leaking air should subside once the gauge is firmly attached.

Third, fill your tires. Plenty of convenience stores have air pumps located on the outside of the building, but you can also go to a tire store to have your tires filled. If you choose to fill your own tires, try to position your vehicle where you can pump all of your tires without moving your car again. Keeping your gauge ready, fill each tire to the recommended pressure that you found earlier. Fasten the mouth of the pump to your tire’s air valve the same way you did with your gauge. Fill your tire in short 10-15 second intervals and check the pressure with your gauge in between intervals. Your tire pressure should be within about five PSI of the recommended pressure by the time you are done. Afterwards, make sure that the caps to the air valves on your tires are screwed back on securely.

Fourth, check the tire tread. Don’t worry, checking tire tread is even easier than checking tire pressure. Take a penny and place Abe Lincoln’s head in between the grooves of the tire tread. If Lincoln’s head is buried to his neck, your tire’s tread is good. If Lincoln’s head is exposed, you need new tires.

How Often Should I Check My Tires?

You should check your tires at least once a month or more. Although, there are specific situations when checking your tires would be wise. Tire pressure can change by one PSI for every 10 degree change in outside temperature. So if your tire pressure was good in winter, it might be overinflated now that it’s summer. If you are planning to take a road trip, check your tires before you leave, and once you reach your destination, and check your spare tire before you leave. You do not want to get stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, especially if your spare is flat too.

Zac Pingle About Zac Pingle

Zac Pingle was born in Florida, and grew up in several places across the United States. From a young age, Zac developed a taste for writing, reading under trees and getting into trouble. Currently, Zac resides in Oregon as a college student where he aspires to become an English professor.