This is the fourth in a series of five articles that will focus on traveling safely during the summer. Read the other posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
Before hitting the roadways this summer, it is critical that drivers take a few minutes to check the condition of their tires. Not only do well-maintained tires keep your car safer and help it last longer, but it also helps you save money. It is especially important during the summer travel season that motorists pay attention to aging or degraded tires, particularly when they decide to embark on a road trip.
Tire Failure Statistics
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2004, tire life was estimated to be 44,700 miles accumulated over 3.6 years. This means that one of the first things you should do when buying a used car particularly from a private owner is to determine the age of the tires. What you do not know may seriously hurt you. NHTSA estimates that about 400 fatalities a year are caused by tire failures. In terms of aging, tires exposed to heat and the sun are likely to wear out quickly.
Tips for Tire Safety
Here are some tips to help keep your tires in good shape and your travels safe all summer:
• Pick your tires carefully: Tire selection should be based on the right size recommended for the vehicle and its loading recommendations. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable tire or auto dealer about selecting the right tire for your typical driving patterns. It is also important to buy a tire gauge and keep it handy in your car at all times.
• Checking tire pressure: This should be done at least once per month and especially before a long trip. Under-inflation can cause tire damage, which could in turn lead to tire failure. Use the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure listed on the sticker of your vehicle’s door jamb or the owner’s manual.
• Slow down during wet weather: You reduce the risk of hydroplaning when you drive at a slower speed.
• Rotate your tires: Tire rotation should be done every 6,000 miles. Any misalignment, imbalance or other mechanical problem will be noticed before tires are rotated.
• Vehicle alignment: It is important to have a mechanic check your vehicle’s alignment, especially when you notice that your car is pulling to one side when you are driving.
• Check your tire tread: Inspect and measure your tire tread. This is easily done by placing a penny in the tread groove. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it is time to change your tires. Also, check the tire sidewalls to ensure that there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other damages.
• Do not overload your vehicle: Doing so can create excessive heat inside your tires causing damage and leading to tire failure.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective tire, an experienced auto product liability lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please stay safe this summer!