In 2009, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s roadside assistance providers responded to more than 570,000 member calls for flat tires and found that in more than 34,000 calls, the vehicle lacked a workable spare tire, or worse, had no spare tire at all. Vacationers can get a head start for their summer road trips by checking the condition of their vehicle tires now, according to the Auto Club. Properly inflated tires with good tire tread, including the spare, greatly improve vehicle safety.
During National Tire Safety Week, June 6-12, motorists can visit Auto Club branches for a “Be Tire Smart” brochure which provides tips about tire care. “Car owners need to remember that taking care of your tires includes the spare,” said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center. “The spare tire is often overlooked by motorists and motorists should be aware that some newer vehicles don’t always come with a spare. Proper tire care, including maintaining the correct pressure means owners will replace tires less often and use less fuel, which results in big savings.”
Types of vehicles that lack a spare, but may have a tire inflator and sealant dispenser, include: BMW’s 328i Coupe, the2010 Cadillac SRX, the Mustang GT500, and 2009 Toyota RAV4.
The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association conducted and just released a new survey of more than 5,400 vehicles that showed 55 percent with at least one under-inflated tire and only one in six vehicles had four properly inflated tires. Approximately 17 percent of vehicles had at least one tire under-inflated by 8 pounds per square inch (psi). Under-inflated tires waste fuel, risk safety and cause tires to wear out faster.
In California, the survey found only 13% of vehicles had four properly inflated tires and nearly 60 percent of vehicles had at least one under-inflated tire. Like the national survey, 17 percent of vehicles in California had at least one tire under-inflated by 8 psi.
The Auto Club recommends that motorists take 5-10 minutes to:
- Regularly check tires, each month, when cool, for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation.
- Refer to the vehicle’s doorjamb, fuel-filler flap, or glove box for original equipment specifications or the manufacturer of the replacement tire for proper inflation. The correct PSI (pounds per square inch of air pressure) for tires is located on the vehicle’s tire information label – not the sidewall of the tire.
- Inflate tires, including the spare, to recommended pressure. Under-inflated tires are a safety hazard and can cut gas mileage as much as 2% per pound of pressure below the recommended level.
- Rotate the car’s tires regularly. Typically every 5,000 miles—following the recommended rotation patterns in your owner’s manual and check your car’s wheel alignment so that the tires wear evenly.
The Be Tire Smart program includes tire retailers, auto dealers, safety advocates and state government agencies. Among the list of Be Tire Smart partners are AAA, Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), Recreational Vehicle & Safety Education Foundation, National Automobile Dealers Assn. (NADA) and many others.
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.