Don’t wait until there’s nothing left between you and the rain-slick pavement to check your tires. The likelihood of accidents skyrockets when you combine wet, seasonal weather and poor tire maintenance.
Proper tire and pressure maintenance can prevent all kinds of road accidents, but drivers must be aware of the warning signs and ongoing maintenance needs to ensure driving safety.
For example, an underinflated tire might not look flat to the eye, but a tire can lose up to 50 percent of its air before it begins to show visually.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire pressure literally changes the way the rubber meets the road, affecting traction, handling, steering, stability and braking. Similarly, NHTSA estimates that nearly 250,000 accidents occur in the U.S. every year because of low tire pressure.
Statistics like these remind drivers how quickly collisions occur under preventable circumstances. To keep your tires road-ready in all conditions:
• Check your tire pressure regularly, especially before long trips. Inflation pressure changes depending on the temperature. Tire pressure drops about 1 psi for every 10° F drop in ambient temperature. Additionally, tires can lose as much as 1.5 psi per month as air escapes the tire and rim naturally. It’s best to check tire pressure when the car is off and tires are coolest.
• Heed the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warning symbol. All passenger vehicles and light trucks sold in the U.S. since 2008 have a TPMS system. If the TPMS warning symbol lights up on your dashboard, one or more of your tires is at least 25 percent underinflated – a significant loss in pressure. Take caution, and do not ignore the TPMS warning.
• Find a safe place to pull out of traffic to stop and check your tires. If you are not having a blowout, use a tire gauge to check the pressure of each tire against your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure level. Inflate tires to correct pressure at the nearest service station or repair facility. The recommended pressure level can be found on the tire placard, a label located just inside the driver’s side door.
• Don’t forget the spare. Before long drives, always check your spare for any injuries or punctures.