Underinflated Tires Can Cost You: Do Your PART

June 6, 2011

Planning to head out soon for a summer vacation or a quick weekend getaway? Before you do, make sure you do something even more important than packing your bags. Do your PART and check your tires for proper pressure.

Since next week (June 5-11) is the 10th National Tire Safety Week, an initiative of RMA’s tire maintenance education program (Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART), it makes sense to reiterate a few simple facts about how to properly care for the tires on your family vehicles.

PART is an acronym that stands for Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread – the four key elements of proper tire care, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

  • Pressure – Check the tire pressure of all tires at least once a month. Definitely check it if you’re heading out on a road trip. Under-inflation is the leading cause of tire wear and tear.
  • Alignment – If your vehicle’s wheels are misaligned in the front or the rear it can cause uneven and rapid tire tread wear.
  • Rotation – You’ll get more uniform tire wear if you have your tires rotated on a regular basis.
  • Tread – Unusual and advanced tread wear can reduce tire ability to grip the road during adverse conditions.

What’s the big deal?

AAA, which, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helped RMA start National Tire Safety Week a decade ago, estimates that it will come to the aid of 1.2 million stranded motorists with tire-related problems this summer.

Imagine having your family vacation ruined because you failed to take five minutes to check your tires’ pressure before heading out? And it only takes five minutes. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to shave or shower. Not really much time at all, but the savings – in fuel savings and tire repair or replacement costs can really add up.

RMA surveys show that 85 percent of motorists don’t know how to properly inflate their tires. According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy, properly maintained tire pressure increases fuel economy by 3.3 percent and can save motorists up to 12 cents a gallon at the pump.

Perhaps the statistic that is most important is the one from the NHTSA: Under-inflated tires contribute to over 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries annually.

How to properly check tire pressure

The RMA has the following tips on how to correctly check tire inflation pressure. In its 2011 survey of 1,000 motorists, only 15 percent of those surveyed knew how to do this correctly.

  • Check pressure at least once a month.
  • Use the tire inflation pressure recommended by the manufacturer (found on a label in the vehicle’s driver’s side door or owner’s manual – not on the tire’s sidewall). RMA found that 62 percent don’t know where to find the correct tire inflation information for their vehicle. Fifty-three percent think it’s on the tire’s sidewall and 15 percent don’t know at all.
  • Check tires when they are cold – not after you’ve been driving for a while. If you have been driving, wait at least three hours before checking tire pressure. The reason to check when they’re cold is because as tires roll, they warm up and increase pressure. This could give a false reading of the actual tire pressure.
  • Don’t forget to check pressure inflation on the spare tire as well. RMA found that seven out of ten drivers neglect to check spare tire pressure.

Bottom line: Keep your family safe on the road this summer – and save money on gas as well as tire repairs. Check tire pressure on all tires before you get everyone on-board to head out of town.

For more tire safety tips, check out the NHTSA link below.

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[AAA via PR Newswire, RMA, NHTSA]

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