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What Every Motorist Should Know About Tire Care & Maintenance

by Larry Carley copyright AA1Car.com

Do Consumers Really Know Anything About Tires or Tire Maintenance?

Not much apparently. In spite of industry efforts to educate consumers about tires and tire maintenance, most motorists apparently remain blissfully ignorant about their tires. According to various surveys conducted by the RMA (Rubber Mfrs. Assn.), most motorists don't pay much attention to their tires. The surveys found:

Motorists who regularly check the air in their tires?
Only about 15 percent of motorists check the air in their tires, ever! Most apparently NEVER check their tires, and probably do not own or know how to use a tire pressure gauge!

Motorists who know WHEN to check their tires?
Less than HALF of all motorists are aware of the fact that tires should be checked when COLD (before the vehicle is driven). Tires heat up once a car is in motion, and that increases the pressure inside the tires. If you check the tires when they are warm or hot, you will get a higher than normal and misleading reading. Recommended inflation pressures are for COLD tires, not warm or hot tires.

Tire Pressure should be checked at least one a month, and before taking long road trips.

Motorists who know where to find the recommended inflation pressure for their tires?
Roughly HALF of all motorists mistakenly assumed the recommended inflation pressure was marked on the sidewalls of their tires. WRONG! The tire sidewall shows the MAXIMUM inflation pressure the tire is rated to withstand. This is NOT the same as the recommended inflation pressure which is found on a decal in the door pillar or glove box, and/or in the owners manual.

tire sidewall information

How many motorists check the air in their spare tire?
What spare tire? Many motorists don't even know where their spare tire is located, and some vehicles do not even have spare tires. If your vehicle has a spare, find out where it is located, how to access it (some require turning a hidden bolt to lower it from under the vehicle) and what the recommended inflation pressure is for the spare. If it is not a normal full sized spare (a compact or "temporary spare") it will typically have a higher inflation pressure (up to 50 or 60 PSI). Don't ignore the spare tire. You never know when you may need it!

How many motorists know how to tell if their tires are worn out and need to be replaced?

About HALF can spot a bald tire that is obviously worn out and needs to be replaced. But many have no idea what the minimum tread depth is for their tires.

HINT: Most tires are considered worn out when the surface of the tread is flush with the small wear bar indicators in the grooves on the tire, or when there is less than 2/32 (1/16) inch of tread remaining. For more information on this subject, see Tire Wear.

checking tire depth with a tire gauge
Measuring tread depth with a tire wear gauge.

How many motorists are driving around on four properly inflated tires?

This is really scary: less than one out of five! All four tires should be inflated to the same recommended pressure (typically around 32 to 34 PSI for most passenger car tires).

Almost HALF of all cars and SUVs on the road will have at least one or more underinflated tires (20 to 25 percent less than the recommended pressure). Once a tire is down more than 25 percent, it should turn on the TPMS warning light, assuming the system is functioning properly and the batteries inside the tire pressure sensors have not aged out or failed. The sensors only last about 7 or 8 years, so if one or more sensors has stopped working the system won't be able to detect low tires . This should turn on the TPMS system warning light signaling you its time to replace the tire pressure sensors.

tire care More Tire Articles:

Tire Diagnosis

Tire Expiration Dates (and Dangers)

Tire Failure (causes)

Tire Safety

Tire (Flat)

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)

Tire Pressure Warning Light

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (Ford F150)

Tire Inflation Tips

Tire Rotation

Tire Wear

Tires - When to Replace & What to Buy

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