NHTSA: Hot, Underinflated Tires Are Dangerous

Tire-pressure
When the asphalt heats up, so do your tires, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning motorists that a temperature spike combined with underinflated tires is a dangerous recipe. According to the agency, tire failure causes around 11,000 crashes every year.

NHTSA cites underinflated tires as the most common cause of tire-related accidents, but others include tread separations, blowouts and bald tires. It offers the following tips to prevent tire failure:

  • Follow the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. This information is on the vehicle placard typically found inside the car door and in the vehicle owner's manual.
  • Purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your vehicle. Tires lose about 1 pound per square inch every month, so check your tires monthly to ensure proper inflation.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, know where the TPMS warning is on your dashboard, and take action if you receive a warning.
  • Check the owner's manual for specific recommendations for tire replacement. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend six years, some tire manufacturers recommend 10 years as the maximum service life for tires, including spares.
  • Monitor the tread on all your tires. Tires with tread worn down to 2/32 of an inch or less are not safe and should be replaced.
  • Look for tread-wear indicators — raised sections spaced throughout the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear, it's time to replace your tires.
  • Try the penny test. Place a penny in the tread of your tires with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your tire has less than 2/32 of an inches of tread and you are ready for new tires.

Related
How Long Do Tires Last?
How To Properly Check and Fill Tires
Cars.com Tire Advice

By Jennifer Geiger | July 1, 2013 | Comments (5)

Comments 

J

The moment that Penny test is mentioned, the article is totally worthless...

Skankzilla

Tires should be replaced at 4/32 of an inch. Although 2/32 is considered the legal limit, it completely changes the handling characteristics of your vehicle, especially in wet conditions.

They established the 2/32 law back in the 60's, it's time to have better understanding of tire safety and how greatly it affects drivability.

GeorgeC

For wet conditions: 4/32" for the rear axle.
3/32" for the front axle.

For dry exclusively: 2/32" for the front axle
3/32" for the rear axle

bcubed

Gee, it must be nice to be rich enough to discard tires that aren't "optimal." 1/16 is legal, and I don't have money to spare.

Yeah, there'll be a performance penalty--drive accordingly! Heck, with stability whatnot and front weight bias, 1/16 is probably safer today than it was in the '60s.

There is a minimum MPH below which you will not hydroplane. It's based on the square root of tire psi. Just drive slower than that.

Skankzilla

bcubed,

I don't agree with you.

You don't have to be rich enough to know when to start budgeting for tires. They wear down gradually, just like your brakes. You can anticipate replacing them as you do watching over the fuel gauge, budgeting for when you need to fill up the tank. If it's still to expensive, then you should frankly take the bus.

Do some research on The Tire Rack, you'll get to know how tread wear affects performance.

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