Tire Safety

Today’s vehicles have a lot of safety features, from seatbelts to anti-lock brakes and airbags, but one of the most important safety features of the vehicle is something that might not be thought about very much – the tires.

In many ways tires are the foundation of vehicle safety. They not only cushion the ride, but also play a key role in your ability to control, maneuver, and stop your vehicle. Tires can also improve your fuel economy, but to do all that, your tires have to be in good shape – which means that you shouldn’t take them for granted. By taking care of your tires, you can do your part to help your tires keep you safe. 

  • Inspection – Inspect tires for cracks, uneven wear patterns, foreign objects, or other signs of wear or damage. Remove bits of glass and other foreign objects wedged in the tread. Make sure the tire valves have valve caps.
  • Pressure – Under inflation is a leading cause of tire failure. Find out the tire s manual. Use a tire gauge to check the pressure of each tire, including the spare, at least once a month.
  • Tread – Tires need to be replaced when the tread is worn to 1/16 of an inch. If the "wear bars" are showing, the tires should be replaced. You can also use the penny test to gauge tread wear. Put a penny head first into the tread groove. If you can see the top of Lincolns head, you should get a new tire.
  • Alignment – Tires that "pull" or vibrate can affect steering, and will usually suffer raid or uneven tread wear as well. Have the alignment checked and the tires balanced periodically, as specified in the owner's manual.
  • Rotation – Shifting the rotation of the vehicle’s tires can often prolong tread life. Consult the owner’s manual for the recommended rotation pattern, any restrictions, and frequency. If no rotation period is specified, plan to rotate your tires approximately every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. 

Good driving habits can also help prevent tire damage, prolong the life of tires, and avoid accidents. Avoid fast starts, stops and turns. Be aware of road conditions and hazards while driving. Avoid potholes or other objects in the road, and slow down if you have to drive over them. Do not run over curbs, and try not to strike the curb when s manual for the maximum recommended load for the vehicle.

Scott Blaser is the Director of Risk Control for the Florida League of Cities.