Summer is right around the corner. Warmer weather brings people out of their homes and on to the highways. Last year, AAA reported that more people than ever were planning to hit the road, with 80 percent of American families planning road trips. Many National Motorists Association members will be among this group, setting their sights on a new destination and heading off on a new adventure.
Next week also marks the annual National Tire Safety Week, running May 21-28, 2018. This year’s theme is “Know Your Roll,” encouraging people to educate themselves about what unsafe tires look like and how to prevent accidents. Ensuring the care of your tires will not only keep your vehicle working properly, but will also keep you and your family safe.
Before hitting the road, it’s recommended to have your vehicle inspected for any unknown issues that could be looming under the hood. Included in a checkup, among other things, will be tests for engine safety and fluid levels. One of the most important things to be checking regularly is tire health.
Unfortunately, there are a significant number of tires on the road that shouldn’t be. According to a new study conducted on 232 cars in a variety of American cities, over 50 percent of tires failed the penny tread test. Many of our members are familiar with the penny tread test, a simple yet effective way to check tire health. It’s pretty simple – place a penny into the grooves of your tire treads. If you see the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, the tread is too worn and it’s time to switch your tires out for new ones.
The study goes on to refute the current belief that front tires are more likely to wear down faster. Rear tires failed the penny tread test at a higher rate, with 35 percent of right rear tires unable to pass and 31 percent of left rear tires in the same situation.
Additionally, the type of vehicle being tested had an impact on pass or fail rate. Trucks, convertibles, and coupes performed best, with each passing at a rate of 67 percent or higher. The model that fared the worst were station wagons, with a staggering 80 percent fail rate.
Insufficient tire treads can lead to many problems, some of which may be life-threatening. Poor weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or ice can prove to be too much for a worn tire. This can lead to hydroplaning and spinning out as the treads and/or the sipes are unable to grip the road properly in inclement weather.
Blowouts are another threat that can occur with unsafe tires. They can be caused by a rapid temperature increase between the tires and the pavement or even something as simple as running over a nail or hitting an obstacle in the road. Weaker tires mean that simple things like acceleration can lead to an accident.
Ensure proper care of your tires by replacing older tires for new ones. Most experts suggest swapping out your tires between 6 and 10 years. However, tires may wear down much faster than that with heavy use or environmental impact.
To check the date the tire was created, inspect the tire ID number. Look out for the letters “DOT” located on the sidewall of the tire right above the rim. At the end of that sequence of letters and numbers will be four digits. This represents the week and year the tire was made. For example, if the last four digits read “3314,” the tire was manufactured during the 33rd week of 2014.
When thinking about replacing your tires, you have many options, from all-season to all-weather and more. Keeping yourself in the know about tire safety is the first step to protecting yourself and those you care about.
Shaina Sklar is a content writer and editor based in Tennessee. Specializing in many fields, her work experience covers wide ranges of content.