Heat, intense sunlight and dry air make August 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 in any other month.
The Auto Club’s roadside assistance service responded to about 56,677 tire-related calls in Southern California last August, which was 1,440 more than in 2010, according to the Auto Club’s Approved Auto Repair Program Development Manager Dave Skaien. “The summer’s heat, dry air and ultraviolet rays from the sun mixed with under-inflated tires, leads to blowouts and tire tread separation,” said Skaien.
Vehicle handling can be adversely affected by improperly inflated tires. Under-inflated tires which run hot due to more friction with the road create an increased likelihood of tire failure and a possible crash. Over-inflated tires can have uneven wear, tricky handling and are more susceptible to road hazard damage and punctures. Motorists can avoid an unpleasant visit to the freeway shoulder this month by checking their vehicle’s tires and the tire pressure, Skaien added.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that under-inflated tires are a factor in 660 fatalities and 33,000 crash injuries. Additional tire industry research shows that 60 percent of vehicles on California roadways are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tire. Moreover, only 13 percent of vehicles in California are riding on four properly inflated tires.
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) for tires is located on the vehicle’s tire information label (located on the vehicle’s doorjamb, fuel filler flap 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.
For more information, visit any Auto Club branch for a free “Be Tire Smart” brochure.