Check Your Tires: Tire Safety Tips

Tire failures, blowouts and de-treads are preventable events. Tires will wear at some point and all have expiration dates. Most new tires are estimated to last between 60,000 and 80,000 miles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends tires be replaced every 6 years, regardless of mileage or use. The NHTSA reports that 9 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with at least one bald tire. Additionally, the NHTSA says 27 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tires. The NHTSA advises motorists check their tires monthly, as well as prior to a long trip. A tire safety check list includes:

  1. Making sure your tires have adequate tread. Check tires and treads for cracks or other defects. A tire is considered bald if it has 1/16th of an inch or less of tread depth. If your tires do not have built-in tread wear indicators, try the “quarter test” (not the penny).
    1. Place the quarter upside down within the tread (Washington’s head facing downward). If you can see the top of Washington’s head, your tire has worn down to 1/8th of an inch of tread. Replace the tire at this point, instead of letting it go bald.
  2. Checking your tire pressure. Test the tire inflation and do not rely on a visual inspection to determine whether a tire is properly inflated. Proper tire inflation guidelines can be found in your automobile’s owner’s manual.
  3. Don’t forget about the spare! Most people don’t think about it until they need it. In other cases, if it is a full-size tire and not an “emergency” tire. If the spare has been hidden away in the trunk for several years, it may be out of date.

Source: “Tire Safety – It’s Up to You.” The Safety Report Fall 2010: 50-51