Safety Tip: Tire Maintenance
VIDEO: How to Maintain Your Tires
National Tire Safety Week is May 28 to June 3 this year, so now is a good time to remind fleet drivers to make tire maintenance a priority throughout the year. Here’s advice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Check tire pressure regularly (at least once a month), including the spare.
- Inspect tires for uneven wear patterns on the tread, cracks, foreign objects, or other signs of wear or trauma. Remove bits of glass and other foreign objects wedged in the tread.
- Make sure your tire valves have valve caps.
- Check tire pressure before going on a long trip.
- Do not overload your vehicle. Check the tire information placard or owner’s manual for the maximum recommended load for the vehicle.
- If you are towing a trailer, remember that some of the weight of the loaded trailer is transferred to the towing vehicle.
- Slow down if you have to go over a pothole or other object in the road.
- Do not run over curbs, and try not to strike the curb when parking.
There’s Safety In Numbers
You can find the numbers for recommended tire pressure and vehicle load limit on the tire information placard and in the vehicle owner’s manual. Tire placards are permanent labels attached to the vehicle door edge, doorpost, glove-box door, or inside of the trunk lid. Once you’ve located this information, use it to check your tire pressure and to make sure your vehicle is not overloaded — especially when you head out for a long trip.
Checking Tire Pressure
Because tires may naturally lose air over time, it's important to check your tire pressure at least once a month. For convenience, keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle.
Remember, the tire inflation number that vehicle manufacturers provide reflects the proper pounds per square inch (psi) when a tire is cold. To get an accurate tire pressure reading, measure tire pressure when the car has been unused for at least three hours.
Step 1: Locate the correct tire pressure on the tire information placard or in the owner’s manual.
Step 2: Record the tire pressure of all tires.
Step 3: If the tire pressure is too high in any of the tires, slowly release air by gently pressing on the tire valve with the edge of your tire gauge until you get to the correct pressure.
Step 4: If the tire pressure is too low, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. These “missing” pounds of pressure are what you will need to add.
Step 5: At a service station, add the missing pounds of air pressure to each tire that is underinflated.
Step 6: Check all the tires to make sure they have the same air pressure (except in cases in which the front and rear tires are supposed to have different amounts of pressure).
Checking Tire Tread
Tires have built-in treadwear indicators that let you know when it's time to replace your tires. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear even with the outside of the tread, it's time to replace your tires. You can also test your tread with a Lincoln penny. Simply turn the penny so Lincoln’s head is pointing down and insert it into the tread. If the tread doesn’t cover Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
To watch a AAA video on tire maintenance, click on the photo or link below the headline.