Inclement weather, poorly maintained roads, and road debris are all conditions that can make for dangerous driving, and poorly maintained tires are no exception. A new government report shows that as many one in twenty auto accidents could be linked to tire-related problems with under-inflation being the biggest problem. Under-inflated tires not only reduces the vehicle’s stability, but also makes it significantly more difficult for a driver to maintain control in inclement weather or in emergency situations, such as swerving to avoid an obstacle in the road. Worn or damaged tires can lead to blow-outs resulting in serious or deadly accidents.
1. Proper tire inflation. Do not assume a tire is good just because it looks properly inflated. Check tire pressure monthly including the spare, and always before taking a long trip. Don’t forget to check the spare tire, too. Don’t wait for the warning light. At this point the tire pressure is at a dangerous level. Over-inflation and under-inflation leads to uneven tread wear and reduces the life of the tire. Follow the air pressure guidelines recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, not the tire manufacturer. For the most accurate reading, check tire pressure after the vehicle has been parked for a few hours. If a vehicle is overloaded such as when on vacation or pulling a boar or trailer, it will put undue pressure on the tires and could lead to a blowout. Additionally, under-inflated tires can impact the driver’s ability to slow down, steer, and maneuver turns. A tire under-inflated by just 5 psi does not grip the road properly increasing the risk of an accident, especially on wet roadways.
2. Tread wear. Visually inspect the tread of all four tires. Tires with little or no tread may hydroplane on wet roads; the vehicle may slide rather than stop when applying the brakes. Look for bulges, cracks and other signs of trauma or wear. Remove any foreign objects such as rocks or glass that are wedged in the tread. Perform the “penny test” to check for proper tread. Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head pointing down into the tire tread. If you can see any of Lincoln’s head, then it is time to replace your tires.
3. Wheel Alignment. Inspect wheel alignment yearly or when a problem is suspected such as if the vehicle pulls to one side or the other. Common causes of poor wheel alignment that can impact tires includes hitting curbs, speed bumps, cracked pavement, and potholes.
4. Regular tire rotation. Rotating tires on a regular basis prevents uneven wear. For vehicles with tires all the same size, rotate from front to back and side to side to maintain even tread wear. See your vehicle maintenance manual for rotation mileage intervals.
5. Driving habits. Objects and debris could damage the lining of a tire and cause bulges in the sidewall; damaged sidewalls can cause blowouts. As part of driving habits, perform a visual inspection every month to identify any wear problems. This is especially important in the summer months. Tires subjected to higher temperatures will deteriorate more quickly leaving a driver more at risk of a blowout. Extra weight increases tire heat and risk of failure; it is important to check tires before a family vacation. The extra weight in a vehicle affects the tires.
Following these simple tips will make your vehicle safer to drive, improve handling, increase fuel economy, extend the life of your tires, and save lives.
Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.