The national trade association for tire manufacturers, Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), wants you to make sure your tires are in good condition before heading out on your next summer road trip. In a press release announcing May 28-June 3 as the 2017 National Tire Safety Week, the RMA explained the importance of highlighting tire safety for a week every year: “Tire manufacturers go to great lengths to produce tires for long-lasting, safety performance…and want to help consumers understand the importance of regular maintenance to safety, and how best to take care of their tires.”
All drivers have a responsibility to inspect and repair or replace vehicle tires on a regular basis—for your own protection and for the protection of others on the road.
Tire Inspection Checklist
While you should give your tires a once-over every month, it's especially important to do a thorough inspection before going on a long road trip. Wear and tear and over- or under-inflation can cause a blow-out and compromise your safety on the road.
Go through the following steps to inspect your tires:
1. Check tire pressure. You should keep a high-quality tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment at all times. Check the pressure before driving anywhere so the tires are cold. You can usually find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure on a sticker inside the door edge. Remember: the heat of summer causes tires to expand, so the pressure should be a little lower to start, or you risk pressure build-up and a possible blow out. If the pressure is off, release air or add air at a service station as needed.
2. Look for signs of irregular wear. You'll have to look over each tire entirely to see if there are any bald patches, bulges, or cracks in the tread, as tires can wear unevenly. If there are any signs of wear, you may need to replace the tire.
3. Check for tread depth. A tire with poor tread is useless when you need to stop or maneuver quickly. To check that your tread depth is adequate, try the penny test: insert a penny (with Lincoln facing you) into a tread area that appears more worn than other areas. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is too worn and it's time to replace the tire.
4. Check for damage. Inspect tires for signs of damage such as glass, nails, or screws in the tire; or any nicks, bulges, or cuts. If there are any signs of damage to your tires, don’t delay in getting them repaired or replaced.
5. Inspect the valve caps. First, make sure all of your tires have valve caps in place, then inspect each one for cracks. These caps protect the valve from damage caused by rocks and debris. Without valve caps, the lifespan of your tires will be greatly reduced.
6. Rotate your tires. To reduce irregular wear, rotate your tires from front to back every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. All four tires must be the same size to do this, so check your owner’s manual for instructions.
7. Don't overload your vehicle. You may be tempted to load up your vehicle for your summer vacation, but too much weight can damage tires by creating excessive heat. Check the “max load” information on the side of your tire and avoid loading your car to the maximum recommended weight. A tire blow-out will end your vacation before it starts.
8. Be cautions when towing. When towing a trailer, some of the weight of the trailer is transferred to the towing vehicle, so be aware of the tires’ max load when attaching a trailer.
Even when your tires are in good condition, they can be easily damaged on a long trip when you speed over pot holes or run over curbs when parking. Drive cautiously and inspect your tires when you are aware that you drove over an obstacle.
Make tire inspections a regular part of your driving routine—starting with this year’s National Tire Safety Week!