Keep your vehicle rolling down the road by following these tips about tire care
June 22, 2005 - Experts say that poor maintenance of a vehicle's tires is a risk no motorist can afford and remind drivers of the importance of maintaining their tires to help avoid uneven wear, poor performance — or even blowouts, which may result in loss of control of the vehicle.
Most drivers would agree that tires are a critical safety component of their vehicle. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates tire failures or blowouts contribute to 414 deaths and 10,275 non-fatal injuries each year in the United States.
Statistics show that some drivers don't follow the basic tire maintenance guidelines that can help prevent tire failures.
For example, the Car Care Council reports that 26 percent of the vehicles inspected at check lanes during the last Car Care Month had low air pressure in one or more of their tires.
Underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure, according to the Rubber Man-ufacturers Association.
What causes a tire to blow out?
Besides obvious road hazards such as potholes and road debris, improper air pressure can cause a tire to blow out or fail.
Underinflation or overloading creates excessive stresses and heat, and can lead to tire failure, which could result in a crash leading to vehicle damage, serious injury or even death, according to the RMA. The association adds that proper inflation extends tire life and saves fuel.
Drivers can help prevent potential tire failures with expert advice and service from their dealership.
Experts offer these tire tips:
• Blowouts — If your tire sustains a blowout while you are driving, do not slam on your brakes. Slamming on your brakes can cause the vehicle to swerve in the direction of the blowout. Instead, gently apply the brakes to regain control and slowly guide the vehicle to a safe area away from the road.
• Air pressure — Tires lose air through the process of permeation. Changes in outdoor temperature can affect the rate at which a tire loses air. Typically, a tire loses one pound to two pounds of pressure per month, and even more in warm weather.
To help avoid underinflation, the RMA recommends checking the air pressure in your tires at least once a month and before every long trip. Tires must be checked when they are cold— that is, before they have been run no more than one mile.
Never "bleed" or reduce air pressure when tires are hot. It is normal for pressures to build up as a result of driving.
Experts encourage consumers to visit their local dealership for an inspection to ensure that their vehicle is up to date on its maintenance needs. The inspections can point out items needing service — service that can help a vehicle run better, last longer, retain its value and provide optimal safety and security.