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Tirewise Campaign: How Safe Are Your Tires?

Living in a warm climate as we do, most drivers in San Diego probably don’t give as much thought to their tires as they should. With very little inclement weather to deal with, such as the hazards of snow and sleet, the state of the tires on our vehicles may not come readily to mind.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges us to think otherwise. With its new Tirewise campaign, the NHTSA reminds us “the only thing between you and the road are your tires”.

The statistics serve to prove the point: every year, there are almost 11,000 tire-related accidents, and out of those accidents, there are nearly 200 fatalities. Figures such as these are stark and serve to remind us how important it is to keep our tires well-maintained.

What things should we be keeping our eye out for when it comes to tire maintenance?

  • Proper tire pressure. Tire pressure is the most important part of tire maintenance. The pressure of your tires can affect so many things, including your safety, the durability of your tires, and your fuel consumption. You should check your tire pressure at least once a month, when your tires are “cold” (haven’t been driven in the last three hours).
  • Your tire tread. Your tires need to be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch. How can you tell when your tread has run down too low? Your tires have raised sections running between the treads, called “treadwear indicators”; when the tread on your tires has worn down to the level of the treadwear indicators, you need to replace your tires.
  • Balance and alignment. Your tires need to be balanced and properly aligned. A wheel alignment can be performed by a qualified technician.
  • Tire rotation. Check your owner’s manual to see how often your tires should be rotated, and the best pattern for rotation. If your front and rear tires are different sizes, tire rotation may not be recommended; always check your owner’s manual for guidance.
  • Tire size. If you’re purchasing new tires, they should be the same size as the original tires on your vehicle, or a size recommended in your owner’s manual.

Improperly maintained tires can cause accidents. It’s important to properly maintain the tires on your vehicle to keep both you and your car safe while traveling on the road.