Tire Safety Part Two

I wrote a while back about the dangers that can be caused by defective tires.  Terrible accidents can also be caused by poor tire maintenance.  Here is a list of things to watch out for in maintaining your tires:

1. No on-the-rim repairs. The tire must be dismounted so that the tire can be properly inspected and sealed against moisture. Short cuts on this can put the survival of your DNA at severe risk.

2. No repairs near the shoulder. This is the weakest part of the tire.  Only holes in the middle of the tire can be repaired.  If you pick up a nail near the shoulder, just spring for the price of a new tire. It’s cheaper than a funeral.

3. New tires go on the rear.  Installing the new tread on the front can lead to loss of control.

4. Check tire pressures and adjust at least once a month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on tire-related crashes, the leading cause of tire failure is underinflation.

5. Inspect tires regularly for abnormal wear or damage. This is easily done at the same time you check pressures. If repair is needed, see #1 above.

6. Rotate tires every 6,000 miles or according to owner’s manual. I know, this is as boring as flossing teeth, but uneven wear pattens can have really bad outcomes such as catastrophic tire failure, rollover, death, quadriplegia, etc.

7. Maintain tires in proper balance.  See #6.

8.  Maintain steering and suspension in proper alignment. See #6 again.

9. Never overload a tire. Overloading is the second leading cause of tire failure, next to underinflation. So don’t load down your old Pinto with rocks  to build that cool stone patio and outdoor fireplace for the coming spring. Read the load capacity stuff in the owner’s manual.

10. Avoid overheating tires.  Excessive speeds, heavy loads, underinflation, rough pavement or concrete, and aggressive driving all contribute to high tire temperatures. All these, especially in hot weather, can lead to sudden tire failure.See #6 again re: bad outcomes.

11. Replace tires when . . .

  • Any portion of the tread is worn to the “wear indicator bars”—lateral bars molded into the tire grooves at about 20 percent of their new tread depth—or to a depth, as measured in a groove, of 1/16th inch or less.
  • Tread wear is severely uneven (in which case have the wheel alignment checked) or the center is worn much more than the edges. (See #6 again about bad things happening to good people.)
  • The tire sidewalls are severely cracked or there are bulges anywhere on the tire.
  • There is any indication of tread separation from the tire carcass.
  • The tire has been punctured and cannot be satisfactorily repaired. (See #1 & #2 again.)

12.  Install tires in matched pairs or complete sets.  I just taught this one to my frugal daughter who had one tire go bad. I hope she remembers when she, rather than Dad, is paying for the tires.

13.  Select the right tires for your vehicle and driving environment. There is quite a variety of specialized tires available. In our generally mild southern climate, “all season” tires are generally good enough for most of us. My daughter’s boyfriend is an advocate of snow tires in upstate New York, where they are in college. I tell her to ride with him in the winter since we Southerners don’t know how to drive on that stuff anyway.

Please feel free to contact me if you have a personal injury or wrongful or products liability matter because of a tire issue.  I’ll be happy to see if I can give you a hand.

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