Tire Safety Tips
You are driving down the highway at high speed when suddenly you hear a loud pop. Next thing you know, your vehicle starts spinning out of control, and the traffic that was once far behind you now begins to close in quickly.
It takes five minutes to check your tire pressure before hitting the road, but for many people, this is a skipped-over step. A car accident could be avoided just by taking a few extra precautions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 11,000 tire-related crashes on our roadways every year. Under-inflated tires are a top cause of these car accidents, and most of them aren’t just fender-benders.
That’s why it’s important to learn proper tire safety and maintenance practices so that you can keep yourself safe as well as any passengers you may carry in your car. And of course, remembering that there are other people on the roads besides yourself!
There are many ways to stay up to date on tire safety and maintenance, but here are some tips that the experts from the NHTSA all agree should keep you safe from tire-related accidents on the road.
Always Check Tire Pressure Regularly
Most new model vehicles come with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This will light up on your dashboard when your tire pressure becomes too low in any of your tires. If you receive these notifications in your dashboard you should take immediate action.
A TPMS is not the only way to keep track of your tire pressure, and some experts believe it is not the most accurate reading. 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 important to keep a manual gauge in your vehicle and check the tire pressure AT LEAST once a month.
While low tire pressure is the most significant cause of tire-related accidents, over-inflated tires can also cause problems, as well. Tires that have too much air can cause premature wear on your tire threads or bulging along the tire walls, which in turn leads to tire failure. Remember that the TPMS does not detect over-inflated tires.
You should always maintain the tire pressure that is 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 for Worn Treads
Worn tire treads are also a significant cause of tire failure on vehicles. All tires have a bar in the groove that is molded to a height of 2/32nd of an inch.
If the bridge in the groove is level with the top of the tread, then it’s time to change the tire.
Tread Depth and Driving in the Rain
Wet roads are a widespread occurrence in New Jersey and New York.
One safety issue that has been studied is how vehicle stopping distance is affected when standing water is on the roadway. Here are the results:
- The stopping distance with full to mid-tread depth in standing water averages 160 feet at 60 mph.
- With mid to minimum tread of 4/32 to 5/32 of an inch, stopping distance can increase to 205 feet under the same conditions.
- With worn tread of 2/32 to 3/32 of an inch, stopping distance in wet weather can increase to 250 feet at 60 mph.
The safety distance between full tread on wet roadways and poor tread is significant, and a good reason to check your tires frequently and replace them when necessary.
Also, check for uneven wear on your tires. Uneven wear could be a sign of a mechanical problem. Either it is 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.
Regular Visual Inspections of Tires
There can be visible signs of tire problems well before the pressure even drops, or the tread wears down. But in order to detect such early problems, you should regularly look over your tires or have a mechanic take a look at them monthly just to be safe.
When you are assessing your tires, 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. Examine your tires for uneven wear and replace worn tires.
Also, look for nails lodged into the tread of the tires. A nail can cause immediate loss of pressure, and if you don’t repair or replace the tire, you will run into a dangerous problem.
Stay Informed with the Data on Tires
It’s not enough to buy new tires for your vehicle. You also have to stay informed.
Make sure you register your new tires so that if there is a recall or a required inspection, you know immediately. Also, stay up to date on reviews of 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.
Remember these tire safety tips and be sure to follow our list of steps to ensure your safety on the road!