AAA: Don't End Up in 'Tire Straits' this Summer

Maintenance stressed during National Tire Safety Week

Phoenix, Ariz., June 1, 2012. Tire bits and shreds littering Arizona’s roadways are a tell-tale sign that ravaging summer temperatures have arrived. To help motorists keep tires in tact this summer, AAA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) are using National Tire Safety Week from (June 3-9) to promote tire maintenance.

Last summer, AAA received more than 17,700 calls for tire-related service in Arizona. This summer, the auto club is projecting a 2.5 percent increase in these types of calls. AAA anticipates that it will respond to more than 123,000 calls for roadside assistance in Arizona from June 1 to August 31 this year, with more than 18,200 – or nearly 15 percent – of those calls being for tire-related service.

“During the summer months, tires are in direct contact with road surfaces that easily exceed 200 degrees,” said John Walter, director of automotive repair for AAA Arizona. “National Tire Safety Week serves as a perfect reminder for motorists to check their tires to help keep the rubber on the road, rather than alongside it.”

Many drivers do not know how to properly maintain or check their tires. In fact, a recent RMA survey revealed:

  • 52 percent of drivers do not know that their tires are bald.
  • 55 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S. have at least one under inflated tire.
  • 62 percent of drivers don’t know where to find the correct inflation pressure for their vehicle.

The survey also found that more than eight out of 10 motorists do not know how to properly inflate their tires. Each year, underinflated tires contribute to more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To help keep motorists safe and tires in tact this summer, and in honor of National Tire Safety Week, AAA offers its top three tire tips in honor of National Tire Safety Week:

  • Check tire pressure monthly. Underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure, along with premature wear and tear. According to the RMA, a tire can lose up to 50 percent of its pressure without appearing flat.

To avoid overlooking this hazard, check all four tires, including the spare, each month when tires are cold and fill the tire to the correct pressure, which is listed in the owner’s manual or driver’s door jamb. Do not rely on pressure monitoring systems, as they are designed to alert drivers once tires are 25 percent underinflated, which may be too late to prevent damage.

  • Regularly inspect tread depth. Adequate tire pressure is imperative to providing the vehicle traction on the road. Tires with inadequate tread cannot grip wet pavement which can result in a loss of braking power and steering control.

Tread should be checked at every oil change, however nearly 65 percent of drivers do not know how to inspect tread depth, according to the RMA. To check tire tread, place a quarter upside down in the tread grooves on several spots of the tire. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to replace that tire.

  • Align and rotate tires as required. Misaligned tires can cause uneven and rapid tread wear. Have your alignment checked by a technician as specified by the vehicle owner's manual. Additionally, regularly rotating your tires can help you achieve more uniform wear, extending the life of your tires. Rotate your tires as prescribed by your owner’s manual.

“In addition to keeping you safe, tire maintenance can help motorists save money,” added Walter. “Properly inflated tires can improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle by more than 3 percent, which can help drivers save up to 12 cents per gallon.”

Motorists in need of a trusted technician to help inspect tires can search AAA’s network of club owned or approved auto repair facilities statewide.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.