Tire Beware: Keep your wheels safe

New survey highlights motorists’ ‘tire smarts’ – or lack thereof

Phoenix, June 3, 2013. Possessing tire smarts – and acting on them – could mean the difference between life and death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes involving tires contribute to 195 fatalities annually. The unforgiving heat during Arizona’s summer can wreak havoc on tires and increase their risk of failure. With National Tire Safety Week taking place through June 8, AAA Auto Repair experts offer tips on becoming tire smart.

“Only 1 out of 6 drivers know how to properly check tire pressure,” said John Walter, director of automotive services for AAA Arizona. “As a go-to source for automotive information, AAA recommends checking your tire pressure each month to help fuel economy, make tires last longer and optimize vehicle safety.”

A new national survey by The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents tire manufacturers in the United States, conducted the survey to gauge motorists’ awareness. Among its findings:

  • More than half - 52 percent - of drivers don’t know where to find the correct inflation pressure for their vehicle. Find it on a label on a vehicle’s driver side door jamb or owner’s manual. Forty-eight percent of drivers wrongly believe that the correct pressure is listed on the tire sidewall.
  • Nearly 40 percent of drivers don’t know that tires should be checked “cold” – before driving or after sitting for at least three hours. As tires roll, they warm up, which causes the pressure to increase and could give a false tire pressure reading.
  • 52 percent of drivers do not know how to tell if their tires are bald. Stick an upside-down quarter into a tire tread. If you see all of Washington’s head, the tire is bald and needs to be replaced. All tires have “wear bars” when the tread depth is at 2/32nd of an inch. When tread is worn down to that point, the tire needs to be replaced.
  • 2 out of 3 drivers do not check the tire pressure in their spare tire. Don’t be unpleasantly surprised if you get a flat tire and don’t have a properly inflated spare.
  • Nearly 3 out of 4 motorists cite checking tire pressure as a top fuel-saving tip. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that drivers can save 11 cents per gallon with properly inflated tires at current fuel prices.

AAA offers a variety of automotive solutions, including six AAA Auto Repair facilities across the metropolitan Phoenix area. More than 100 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities also are located across the state. For more information, visit aaa.com/automotive .

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and 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.