Treat Your Tires to Some TLC

Last week was National Tire Safety Week and the AAA Foundation wants to help you ensure that your vehicles are road trip-ready before embarking on any vacation adventures this summer. Tire safety is serious business, Secretary LaHood recently shared data that shows, from 2005 to 2009, nearly 3,400 people died--and an estimated 116,000 were injured--in tire-related crashes. However, proper tire care doesn’t take much effort and can help prevent breakdowns and blowouts during your summer travels.

Unfortunately, knowing how to keep tires in tip-top condition isn’t necessarily common knowledge, according to a recent tire care awareness survey by the Rubber Manufacturers Association. More than half of drivers don’t know how to check if their tires are bald, only 15 percent properly check their tire inflation, and 62 percent don’t know where to find the correct inflation pressure for their vehicle.
Here is a quick tire safety checklist, provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to help ensure your next road trip is a blast instead of a blowout.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure, particularly during hot weather. Find your vehicle’s correct tire pressure on a label on the driver side door or in the owner’s manual.
  • Check tire pressure often (at least once a month), and don’t forget about the spare.
  • Always check tire pressure when tires are “cold,” meaning they’ve not been driven on for at least three hours.
  • Purchase a tire gauge and keep it in your vehicle.
  • Make sure your tire valves have caps.
  • Always check tire pressure before going on a long trip.
  • Inspect tires for cracks, foreign objects, uneven wear and other signs of damage.
  • Remove any items wedged in the tread.
  • Check to see if your tires are bald using the Lincoln’s Head penny test: Place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing toward you—if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head above the tire tread, it’s time for new tires.
  • Rotate your tires to help prevent uneven wear and increases their longevity.
  • A good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires approximately every 5,000 miles (or every other oil change!).
  • Have a tire dealer check your vehicle’s alignment periodically to avoid tire damage.
  • Avoid running over potholes or hitting the curb while driving or parking, which can throw off your alignment.