Tires are often the first line of defense for drivers and their passengers when the rubber meets the road. With an increase in new drivers hitting the highways every year, regular tire maintenance is a simple way to ensure safety. In 2016 more than 40,000 driving fatalities occurred in the United States reaching a peak for the first time after a decade.
Thankfully basic tire care is an easy way to get back in the driver’s seat when it comes to road safety. Checking the condition of your tires goes a long way toward preventing injuries, fatalities and unexpected repair or insurance costs and claims due to accidents from wear or tire blowout. One of the major causes of accidents is loss of control due to these two factors, which inhibit friction required to gain traction and orientation, such as in a hydroplaning scenario.
The first step to begin with is a visual inspection every once in a while, particularly after suspected or actual friction from road obstructions and chasms such as debris, curbs or deep potholes. One of the most important signs to check for is air pressure since occupant’s lives are literally riding on the air in the tires. During the course of 30 days tires lose an average of 1-2 psi. It only takes one under-inflated tire to cause a potentially life-threatening accident, but quick monthly checks can take mere minutes. Also, look for any protrusions or cuts. Insufficient air pressure or slight flat is an early indication of more serious internal damage.
Generally, tires need rotation every six months or 5 to 7,000 miles, but as with everything mentioned here, it’s wise to consult your Owner’s Manual for your specific vehicle. The importance of rotation is highlighted by the prevalence of front-wheel-drive manufacturing which causes a faster rate of wear to steering tires and less so for rear axel tires. Proper tire alignment is also a key to reducing operating costs often due to vibrations from irregular tread-wear. Before embarking on any extensive road trips it’s always best to put your trust in a reliable professional to conduct a more detailed full inspection that covers tire checks and more. At the very least, doing your own regular visual tire inspection can safe you time and money. It can also help by ensuring that you have more years left to travel life’s busy highways.