(LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11, 2008) - Heat, intense sunlight and dry air make this the most dangerous month for car tires, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California, which changes more tires for its members during August than any other month.
The Auto Club's Roadside Assistance service responded to about 63,000 tire-related calls in Southern California last August, according to Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center. "The summer's heat, dry air and ultraviolet rays from the sun mixed with under-inflated tires, leads to blowouts and tires separating," said Mazor.
Vehicle handling can be adversely affected by improperly inflated tires. Under-inflated tires, which run hot, due to more friction with the road, can lead to tire failure and a possible crash. Over-inflated tires can have uneven wear and make tires more susceptible to road hazard damage and punctures. Motorists can avoid an unpleasant visit to the shoulder of the freeway this month by checking their vehicle's tires and the tire pressure, Mazor added.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that under-inflated tires are a factor in 660 fatalities and 33,000 crash injuries each year. Additional research shows that 27 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tire, according to NHTSA. Moreover, 32 percent of light trucks (SUVs, vans and pickup trucks) are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tire.
The Auto Club recommends that motorists regularly check tires when cool for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation. The correct PSI (pounds per square inch of air pressure) that's right for tires is located on the vehicle's tire information label (located on the vehicle's doorjamb or glove box for original equipment specifications) - not the sidewall of the tire. If you have replacement tires, contact the tire manufacturer for proper inflation. Motorists also should avoid road hazards and debris, curbs and potholes that can damage tires.
California and many other states have minimum tread depth laws. Passenger cars shouldn't operate on tires below 2/32" tread depth. If you need to purchase new tires, be sure replacements meet manufacturers speed/load specifications for your vehicle.
A motorist survey earlier this year by the Rubber Manufacturers Association found that 85 percent of American drivers do not properly check tire inflation pressure. For more information, visit any Auto Club office for a free "Be Tire Smart" brochure.