If you own a 2008 model year or newer passenger car, light truck or van under 10,000 pounds gross weight, it’s equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) as mandated by federal law. The purpose of TPMS is to detect and warn the driver when tire pressure dips below 25 percent the recommended level in any tire.
Tire pressure warning lamp - NHTSA
But many drivers of newer vehicles equipped with the system ignore the warning lights and fail to correct the condition. In addition, there are still millions of older vehicles on the road without TPMS.
Since underinflated tires are difficult to detect visually, without monthly checks to ensure tires are inflated to the proper pounds per square inch (PSI) as indicated by the vehicle owner’s manual, drivers could be increasing their risk of a crash involving serious injuries or death.
As reported in The Detroit News, new study of crash data from 2005-2007 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 5 percent of vehicles involved in crashes had tire problems – either underinflated or poorly maintained tires.
Furthermore, vehicles with tires underinflated by 25 percent were three times as likely to be involved in a crash-related to tire problems. Sixty-six percent of tire-related crashes involved passenger cars.
The study found that tires with worn tread experienced a big increase in tire-related crashes.
Not surprisingly, bad weather increases the risk of crashes in vehicles with tire problems. The study found 11.2 percent of the sample vehicles studied had problems linked to tires during inclement weather compared to 3.9 percent when weather conditions were not a factor.