SOUTH BEND, Ind. (June 30, 2003) — Noting that the first federal tire safety standards in three decades were recently issued and are scheduled to go into effect in 2007, the Tire Rack has issued tire safety tips aimed at summertime travelers.
The South Bend-based mail-order tire marketer said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “has found that 40 percent of cars and 45 percent of light trucks have at least one tire underinflated by six psi or more. That level of underinflation can lead to tire damage, sudden tire failure and potential loss of vehicle control. NHTSA also found that more than 21 million vehicles have at least one bald tire. Tires with worn or no treads significantly increase the chances of hydroplaning and can also fail suddenly.”
The company said most consumers “have traditionally paid little or no attention to correcting” tire safety hazards that “are simple to avoid,” adding that “unfortunately” the industry's first new tire safety standards in more than 30 years don't take effect until 2007.
Tire Rack offered summer travelers five tips to “make sure their vehicle tires do the job they were designed to do properly.” Those include:
* Don't forget about physics—For every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes by one psi. Tires last inflated in cold weather will, in 80-degree weather, be overinflated, Tire Rack pointed out. Also, tires lose air pressure continuously, typically at a rate of one pound per month.
* Don't expect an early warning—Since most vehicles don't have sensors to alert drivers about tire pressure, the only way to ensure proper tire inflation is to check the pressure once a week, the company said.
* Don't rely on your eyes—Checking how far a tire's tread has worn down “is smart, but it won't save you from a potentially dangerous situation. Tire blowouts occur when the structural integrity of a tire has been compromised,” Tire Rack said, “…so get that tire gauge out.”
* Don't count on anyone else—Because a recent NHTSA study revealed that the accuracy of gas station air pumps varies widely, and is likely a reason why many people drive with incorrectly inflated tires, the company advised motorists to use a good tire gauge “every time you fill up the tank.”
* Do speak your mind—Recommended tire pressures are determined by vehicle weight, load carrying capacity and tire construction, the company said, “but quick lube facilities often set tire pressures at the same level for all vehicles.” It suggested motorists “ask the attendant to follow the tire pressure recommendations” for their vehicle, usually printed on a placard located on the inside of the gas filler flap, doorjamb, or in the owner's manual.