Drivers should remember to check their tire pressures and the condition of tire treads. This must be done often, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but more so during the hot months of summer.
It is important to check the air pressure in your tires, particularly in summer when road surfaces are hot, vehicles are loaded, and families are going long distances for vacations. Improperly inflated tires can become causes for accidents. The NHTSA said that road crashes involving vehicles with tire problems have a costly toll in human lives (660 people) and injuries (33,000 people) each year.
When you are planning long trips, remember that properly maintained tires can help to improve the steering performance of the vehicle, shorten stopping times because of better traction and increase your fuel economy. The NHTSA warns that under-inflated tires are a major cause of failure, along with worn treads. One study indicates that 78,000 car accidents per year are due to under-inflated tires.
Under-inflated tires force the car to sit lower on the road, throwing off its specially calculated geometric angles and weight balance. This puts undue stress on suspension parts and causes premature wearing. Improper inflation also induces more rapid heat buildup inside the tire – increasing your chances for a dangerous tire blowout – and results in poor fuel economy and excessive tire wear.
Therefore, maintaining proper tire pressure prolongs the life expectancy of all suspension parts, gives you the best fuel economy, and, most importantly, adds considerably to driving safety.
The NHTSA and tire manufacturers recommend that you buy a good tire pressure gauge and check tire pressure not less than once a month, because:
- Tires will slowly lose air;
- Sudden jolts, as when you drive over a bump or pothole or strike the curb as you park, cause tires to lose significant amounts of air; and,
- Visual inspection does not give sufficient indication that radial tires are under-inflated.
You must follow the recommended tire pressure on the tire information placard in your vehicle (on the door jamb at the driver’s side or in the glove compartment), not the pressure indicated on the tire itself. The pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer is the correct pressure when the tire is cold. Check the pressure when the tire is “cold”, meaning the vehicle has not been running for at least 3 hours.
You should check the pressure on all tires. They should all be of the same pressure (unless the vehicle manufacturer says the front tires should have different pressure than rear tires).
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