Tire Care Mistakes That Risk Motor Vehicle Accidents
People live busy lives and tire care isn’t at the top of their priorities. For them, taking care of their tires means using common sense such as adding air to a tire that looks under inflated and replacing tires that have worn tread. Broadly speaking, keeping your tires properly inflated and replacing worn tires is more or less the essence of tire maintenance, although they must also be rotated on your car to keep the wear even.
However, a lack of knowledge about the details of tire care can lead to mistakes that may cause a motor vehicle accident. The accident may be caused by a tire blowout or poor handling in a difficult driving situation. Here are four common mistakes:
- Driving on Under Inflated Tires. Waiting until the tires look low on air before inflating them back to the proper pressure means they are often under inflated. By the time the difference in appearance is noticed, the tire can be under inflated by as much as fifty percent. Chronic under inflation causes intensive rubber flexing in the sidewall which fatigues and damages the rubber. This may lead to a tire blowout.
- Failing to notice the tread wear pattern. The tread on a properly inflated tire wears evenly. If the tread wear occurs mostly at the center of the tire, then it has been chronically over inflated. Wear occurring mostly at the edges of the tire indicate chronic under inflation. Not checking your tire wear at all, risks driving with insufficient tread.
- Using the pressure shown on the tire sidewall. This is a maximum tire pressure figure. The correct pressure is usually printed inside your glove compartment and is given in the car owner’s manual.
- Plugging the tire’s sidewall. The tread area of your tire is the only place where you can safely plug a hole. Plugging the sidewall on the other hand, can cause a blowout. Reputable auto mechanics will never plug the sidewall even if you tell them. The sidewall undergoes too much flexing for such a plug to hold.
- Holding on to old tires. Like old rubber bands, old tires age and lose their elasticity. This aging is caused by rubber oxidation. Regardless of the tread condition, discard tires older than six years. This rule includes your spare tire. In addition, avoid buying used tires. Driving on very old tires risks a blowout.
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