HARRISBURG, PA --- Checking tire inflation, tread wear and wheel alignment are some of the tips the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers during National Tire Safety Week, which runs through June 13.
"Ensuring all parts of your vehicle are in optimal condition should be the first step to planning any summer trip," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. "While we may think first about our brakes and air conditioning, tire maintenance cannot be overlooked. They provide essential traction during summer rainstorms and an under- or over-inflated tire can pose a serious safety hazard."
According to PennDOT, more than 1,900 crashes on Pennsylvania roads last year involved a tire failure and resulted in 34 fatalities.
To remind motorists about the four primary aspects of tire safety, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, or RMA, uses the acronym PART -- pressure, alignment, rotation and tread.
Correct tire pressure is important, especially during summer months when warm temperatures can cause inflation pressure to rise. This may lead to a blowout if the tire is in poor condition. Proper inflation also improves fuel efficiency. It is best to check tire inflation when the vehicle's tires are cool and not hot from driving. In addition to checking the pressure, visually inspect the tires to make sure there are no nails or other objects that could puncture the tire.
Alignment is easier to judge since a vehicle will often pull to one side when the wheels are misaligned. Alignment should be corrected by a licensed mechanic since misalignment can cause uneven or premature wear of the tires.
Regularly rotating tires according to your vehicle owner's manual also improves safety. A good rule of thumb is to have your tires rotated every 5,000-8,000 miles.
Finally, motorists should monitor the wear of their tires to ensure good traction. To quickly check the tire tread, insert a penny in the tread groove with Lincoln's head upside down -- if you can see the entire head, your tires are worn and should be replaced.