(Los Angeles, Jan. 10, 2005) — The ability of tire tread to perform in rain and snow is diminished as tires wear. With 2/32" tread depth, the legally required minimum tread, resistance to hydroplaning at highway speeds is significantly reduced, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The need for proper tire maintenance is so important to safety that the Auto Club is urging motorists to get a free tire checkup at any of the 600 Auto Club Approved Auto Repair facilities. A list of locations can be found at www.aaa.com and in Auto Club offices.
"Not being aware of the condition of the tires on your vehicle is dangerous," said Dave Skaien, the Auto Club's Approved Auto Repair Program Development Manager. "Sufficient tread depth and proper tire inflation is critical for safe driving in any condition. Eighty-six percent of drivers don't check their tire inflation pressure properly and 70 percent of U.S. drivers don't know how to tell if their tires are bald."
Many states have minimum tread depth laws. Don't drive on minimum tire tread before replacing your tires, said Skaien. Passenger cars shouldn't operate on tires below 2/32" tread depth and ski-resort bound motorists should operate their vehicles' snow tires on a minimum of 6/32" tread depth.
How do you know if your vehicle's tires need replacing? A simple test is using a coin as a tire tread depth gauge. As tires wear, place an American penny into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by tread, then more than 2/32" tread depth remains. On snow tires, if the top of the Lincoln Memorial is covered, then more than 6/32" tread depth is left. (Be sure not to place the coin on top of the wear bar, a thick elevated strip of rubber running across the base of tire grooves.)
Maintaining your vehicle's tires is also crucial to fuel economy, said Skaien. Every other fill-up, walk around the vehicle and check tires for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation. Refer to the vehicle's doorjamb or glove box for original equipment specifications or the manufacturer of the replacement tire for proper tire pressure inflation, he added. The Auto Club also recommends a tire rotation every 7,500 miles, said Skaien.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has served members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit from the organization's roadside assistance service, insurance products and services, AAA Travel Agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services, and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa-calif.com.