DAYTON — A tire industry survey reveals that nearly 7 out of 10 vehicles are riding on under-inflated tires, which waste gasoline, increase the risk of tire damage and cause premature tire wear. With the busy summer driving season ahead, AAA urges motorists to ensure their tries are up to the demands of hot-weather driving.
Last summer, AAA’s Roadside Rescue Team assisted more than 3,000 motorists with tire related problems in the Miami Valley Area.
“Many of these tire problems can be avoided by taking a few minutes once a month to ensure tires are properly inflated,” said AAA Public Affairs Manager Cindy Antrican. “Improper pressure levels not only put drivers’ safety at risk but also can cost them extra money in gasoline and tire replacement costs.”
Motorists should check inflation pressure at least once a month and before long trips and remember to check the spare tire. To properly check inflation pressure, an individual must use a tire gauge; use the correct inflation pressure for the vehicle and; check tires when cold, before driving. The correct inflation pressure is found on a label on the driver’s doorjamb or owner’s manual, not the tire sidewall. More advice on tires from AAA is available here.
“Tires have an expiration date of about six years, even if they haven’t been used,” said Bruce Baldwin, manager of AAA Tire & Auto. “Over time, heat causes tires to breakdown ingredients and polymers, causing them to become brittle.”
As a go-to source for automotive information, AAA tire experts offer seven tips on buying tires:
Never buy used. Motorists may consider buying used tires to save a few bucks. However, AAA cautions against this, as you can’t be certain how the tires were treated before you acquired them. Plus, you could end up with tires that are 12 to 14 years old.
Save the date. Every tire has a stamp that includes the date the tire was made. Look for a series of numbers inside a rectangular box located on the sidewall of the tire. The last four numbers will be the manufacture date. For example, if the numbers are 0808, the tires were made in August 2008. AAA Auto experts recommend not buying tires that are more than a year old.
Mile-mannered. Tires often are advertised with a number that signifies how many miles the tire should last. Yet there are many variables that can lower that mileage, from the tires not being properly aligned or inflated, not being rotated as recommended to driving on rough roads. AAA Auto experts say that number is more of a feel-good advertising number and that getting about 40,000 miles for a set of tires is fairly standard.
Rough ride. Those higher-mile tires are going to be harder with a thicker tread. And while harder tires last longer, they’re less comfortable and result in a noisier ride and less traction.
Pressure check. You can find the proper pressure that your tires should be inflated to on your vehicle’s door jamb – not the pressure listed on the tire itself. Even if you replace the tires with other models, the pressure should remain the same, because it is based on the weight of your vehicle. AAA Auto experts recommend staying with the recommended tire for the vehicle and not to purchase other types, such as low-profile tires. The suspension and braking systems are designed to operate with a specific tire size, and other tires will change the steering and braking characteristics, which could result in poor performance.
Wear and tear. Wear bars are located in every tire and look like a raised bump every few inches. Once a tire’s tread is level with those wear bars, it’s time to replace it. Another way to check is to take a penny or quarter and place it upside down in the tread. If the tread is up to the president’s forehead, it’s OK. Check tire pressure each month to help fuel economy, make tires last longer and optimize vehicle safety.
How low it can go. If a tire looks low, it’s already more than halfway empty. In underinflated tires, the sidewall starts to collapse and the steel underneath the rubber will bend. When tires are inflated properly again, they tend to bulge and are prone to blowouts. Also don’t overinflate tires to avoid abnormal tire wear.