The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Drivers More Likely to Wash Cars than Check Tire Pressure

June 07, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. drivers are more likely to wash their cars than correctly check tire pressure, according to a national survey by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). The survey found that three out of four American drivers wash their vehicle at least once a month while only one in seven correctly checks tire pressure. Motorists rank checking tire pressure as the second most important regular vehicle safety action, but more than three times as many drivers believe regular oil changes are most important to the safe operation of their vehicles. Correct tire pressure maximizes vehicle safety, performance, and tire life, but 85 percent of drivers do not properly check tire pressure. “Our research shows that too many Americans are driving clean, well-oiled cars on poorly maintained tires, and we want to change that by helping motorists to be tire smart,” said Donald B. Shea, RMA president and CEO. “We want American motorists to become as conscientious about checking tires as they are about using safety belts.” Shea also noted that high gasoline costs can be reduced with properly inflated tires. “Keeping tires properly inflated improves gas mileage and saves money,” he said. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drivers can improve their gas mileage by about 3.3 percent by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure. In 1995, the U.S. Department of Energy said under-inflated tires waste 4 million gallons of gasoline daily –- or nearly 1.5 billion gallons annually – in America. At today's prices, that's nearly $3 billion dollars a year in additional gasoline costs.

Other findings from RMA’s 2004 study include:

  • More than half of drivers – 55 percent – wrongly believe that the correct inflation pressure is printed on the tire sidewall.
  • 30 percent of drivers wrongly believe that the best time to check their tires is when they are warm after being driven for at least a few miles.
  • Nearly 1/3 of drivers wrongly believe that if they are taking a trip with a fully loaded vehicle, they are better off if their tires are a little bit underinflated.
  • Two out of three drivers don’t know how to tell if their tires are bald.

    "Underinflated tires cause excessive heat buildup and heat is the enemy of a tire," Shea said. "Over time, this can cause internal damage that may lead to tire failure." National Tire Safety Week partners are distributing RMA’s educational brochure on proper tire care and maintenance, hosting events to teach motorists about tire care, and including tire care information in their advertising and marketing materials. This year more than 3.5 million RMA tire safety brochures are being distributed to consumers through more than 8,400 tire retail outlets across the country. A version of National Tire Safety Week also will be held in Canada, where the Rubber Association of Canada will cosponsor Be Tire Smart week.

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