As we move through the dog days of summer, most of us have experienced a marked increase in traffic on our roads due to high school and college students being out of school and families taking their usual warm-weather vacations. When combined with the routine traffic present in many states from the oil and gas sector, among other industries, there’s a clear need to make sure that you’re making every effort to remain safe when behind the wheel.
One important but often overlooked safety tip is the proper care and maintenance of your tires…the only things separating you from the road. Ensuring proper tire inflation, sufficient tread depth, correct alignment, and regular rotation are a must because everything is riding on it!
A key factor in tire safety is air (or nitrogen, if you’re so inclined) pressure. Over-inflated tires ride roughly while wearing unevenly at the center of their tread. Under-inflated tires decrease fuel economy, may cause imprecise handling, wear unevenly at the edges of their treads, and can overheat and fail at highway speeds. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, low tire pressure contributes to an average of more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries annually. For a safe summer of driving, here’s a list of things that you can do:
- Check your tire pressure at least monthly because tires can lose approximately one PSI per month through normal seepage. In addition, tires lose (in cold weather) or gain (in warm weather) about a pound of pressure with every 10-degree change in temperature. For the most accurate reading, check your tire pressure when they are cold. Remember, a cold tire is one that has not been driven on for at least three hours.
- Follow the inflation pressure recommendations in your vehicle owner’s manual, the tire’s certification label usually located in the glove box, or the tire’s information placard located on the driver’s side door jamb. Don’t use the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall since this is the level needed to achieve the tire’s maximum rated load capacity.
- Be sure to have the same pressure in all four tires, unless the manufacturer’s recommendations specify different levels for front tires versus back…and always maintain the same pressure between the left and right side tires.
- Buy a good tire gauge and keep it in your vehicle at all times.
By following these simple tips, you’ll improve your vehicle handling, fuel economy, tire life and, most of all, help protect yourself, your family, and others from possible blow-outs and accidents. Drive safely!
“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hand.”
~ Jeff Cooper, U.S. Marine, Firearms Instructor, & Writer