NHTSA: Hot, Underinflated Tires Are Dangerous
By Jennifer Geiger
on July 1, 2013
When the asphalt heats up, so do your tires, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning motorists that a temperature spike combined with underinflated tires is a dangerous recipe. According to the agency, tire failure causes around 11,000 crashes every year.
NHTSA cites underinflated tires as the most common cause of tire-related accidents, but others include tread separations, blowouts and bald tires. It offers the following tips to prevent tire failure:
- Follow the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. This information is on the vehicle placard typically found inside the car door and in the vehicle owner's manual.
- Purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your vehicle. Tires lose about 1 pound per square inch every month, so check your tires monthly to ensure proper inflation.
- If your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, know where the TPMS warning is on your dashboard, and take action if you receive a warning.
- Check the owner's manual for specific recommendations for tire replacement. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend six years, some tire manufacturers recommend 10 years as the maximum service life for tires, including spares.
- Monitor the tread on all your tires. Tires with tread worn down to 2/32 of an inch or less are not safe and should be replaced.
- Look for tread-wear indicators — raised sections spaced throughout the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear, it's time to replace your tires.
- Try the penny test. Place a penny in the tread of your tires with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your tire has less than 2/32 of an inches of tread and you are ready for new tires.
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Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer