Whether you’re about to embark on an epic road trip or just do a weekly run to the grocery store, tire safety is imperative to your well-being. Tires are an often-overlooked part of the vehicle, and also often aren’t inspected or maintained as well as they should be. A flat tire can cause huge hassle on the side of the road; a tire blowout can cause life-threatening car accidents.
Ensuring your vehicle is in a safe condition to operate in is essential to road safety. The accident attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk are there for you if you have been injured due to the neglect or fault of another – call 800-538-4878 for a free case evaluation today.
There are several aspects of tires that should be inspected and maintained, especially before long road trips. This step-by-step guide makes tire inspection less overwhelming. Your tires are your first defense on the roadway, and they should be treated as such.
1. Note your tire’s type and size.
Different vehicles require different sizes and types of tires. You should familiarize yourself with the requirements of your make and model. Be sure that the tires you have adhere to the specifications of your vehicle. You should also double check that your spare tire is the correct size and type for your vehicle model.
To find the correct tire type, look at the manufacturer specifications in the owner’s manual of your vehicle.
2. Check your tire pressure.
When you check your tire pressure, always do so when the tires are cold. This means the vehicle should have been parked for at least an hour. When you drive the car, the tires warm up, which will give you an inaccurate pressure reading.
Checking your tire pressure is essential because loss of air pressure isn’t always visible. A tire can lose up to fifty percent of the air pressure without visually appearing flat. If your tires are under-inflated, they can overheat, which poses serious dangers for vehicle passengers.
The owner’s manual for your vehicle should tell you your ideal tire pressure. Make sure you check the owner’s manual rather than the tire sidewall. The sidewall tells you the maximum pressure for a tire, not the ideal pressure for your vehicle.
Tire pressure should be checked with a gauge once monthly.
3. Test your tread.
Tires are designed with grooves in the tread which push water from underneath the tire and allow maximum traction. When the tread on your tires becomes worn, your grip on the road lessens in the same way worn sneakers lose traction when you walk. Driving with inadequate tread is unsafe because it increases the chances of hydroplaning, skidding, and serious car accidents.
Tires even have legal depths specified for their treads. They’re manufactured with wear indicators. When your tire’s traction is so worn down that it’s level with the wear indicator, the tire needs replacing.
If you’re not sure about your treadwear indicators, you can also do a penny test. Turn a penny upside down and press it into your tire’s tread. If all of Abraham Lincoln’s head is still visible, your tires need replacing.
4. Rotate and align your tires.
Your owner’s manual will have specific requirements for tire rotation. The general rule of thumb is to rotate your tires once for every five thousand miles driven. By rotating your tires, you allow the tread to wear evenly, which saves you time and energy by prolonging your tire’s lifespan. When rotating the tires, you should consult the owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specific rotation pattern.
5. Check for damage.
Every week, you should do a quick check for tire damage. Take a look at the following areas:
- Check the overall surface for cracks, cuts, or bulges
- Inspect your tire sidewalls along the treads
- Use a flashlight to look behind the tire as well as in front of it
6. Pay attention to your vehicle’s capacity.
Weight limits and recommended weights exist for a reason. If you overload your vehicle, you put undue amounts of strain and pressure on the tires. This causes them to wear more quickly and increases your chances of a blowout.
When you’re loading your vehicle, keep in mind that passenger weight counts toward the overall recommended weight. If you’re going on a road trip and your luggage overloads the vehicle’s weight limit, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Mail some of your items to your destination or leave them behind rather than risking your safety in an overloaded vehicle.
7. Check the spare tire.
Every month, you should take a look at your spare tire. In addition to ensuring it’s the right size and type of tire, you need to be sure it is in good quality condition. Tires can lose their air pressure even when they aren’t being used, so check the air pressure of your spare when you check the air pressure of your regular tires.
8. Pay attention to your tire age.
After a certain point, it doesn’t matter how well the tire has been maintained. If your tires are more than six years old, you should replace them. Old tires are not safe to drive with regardless of whether they pass tread and pressure tests.
These eight aspects of tire safety are easy to maintain and inspect regardless of your proficiency with motor vehicles. Just be sure to keep your owner’s manual on hand, since every vehicle has different safety specifications regarding its tires.
The following is an easy timeline of tire maintenance:
- Check your tires for damage
- Use a flashlight to check behind the tires for damage
- Glance at the tread walls to be sure they are not torn
- Use a pressure gauge to check your tire’s air pressure
- Check the spare tire’s air pressure
- Do the “penny test” on your tread
Every 5,000 miles:
- Rotate your tires
- Replace tires if the tread is worn down
Every six years:
- Replace your full tire set if it has not been replaced in six years
Our injury law team urges you to exercise caution and safety in all matters related to your vehicle or transportation, including tire safety. If you or a loved one was injured in a car wreck as the result of the negligence or fault of another and you would like to contact a Tampa personal injury attorney, contact us at 800-538-4878 for a free case evaluation.