For many Americans, the summer season is driving season. These tire safety tips are designed to help drivers make sure that they’re ready for safe, enjoyable road trips this summer.
- Make sure you check your tire pressure regularly – at least once per month and before every long trip — including the spare and keep it at the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
- The correct cold inflation pressure for your tires is listed on the vehicle label on the door post, fuel door, glove box or in the owners' manual. "Cold inflation pressure" refers to the pressure in a tire that has not been driven for at least three hours. As tires warm during driving, it is normal for pressure to build up. Never "bleed" or reduce air pressure when tires are hot.
- The tire pressure listed on your sidewalls is the maximum pressure and is not intended to serve as notification of the correct pressure.
- Under inflation creates excessive stresses and heat and may lead to tire failure. It is also important to guard against overinflation, which can cause uneven wear plus handling and stopping problems.
Vehicle Loading and Overloading
- Before you fill the trunk and the roof rack with your stuff, check out the vehicle manufacturers recommendations for loading your vehicle. You may not realize it, but you and your passengers count towards the total recommended vehicle weight.
- The vehicle manufacturers loading recommendation can be found on the vehicle information placard on the door post or in the vehicle owners' manual.
- Overloading your vehicle creates excessive heat inside your tires. Excessive heat can cause tire failure that could result in vehicle damage and/or serious injury or even death.
- And don’t forget, if you’re going to be driving long distances with a loaded vehicle or you haven’t had your car checked in a while, have the alignment and rotation checked. Tires and wheels that are out of balance or misaligned can cause uneven wear or vehicle problems. Have your car checked by an automotive service professional before you leave.
- Check the tread grooves of your tires to make sure that they’re free of foreign objects. This makes it easier for your tires to grip the road and increases your ability to safely maneuver your car.
- Also check the sidewalls to make sure there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.
- You may have irregular tread wear if there are high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Built-in treadwear indicators, or "wear bars," which look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread will appear on the tire when the tread is worn down to one-sixteenth of an inch. When you see these “wear bars,” the tire is worn out and should be replaced.