When discussing safety on the road, we talk a lot about decisions the driver makes while the vehicle is moving. There are a wide number of factors that drivers have control over, such as speed, seat belt usage, and their own sobriety.
Equally important, however, are some actions owners need to make while not actively driving, such as ensuring that their tires are up to the job. Thankfully, the NHTSA has an entire page about properly choosing and maintaining tires to help you stay safe on the road.
When shopping for tires, there are a few things you should know to check. While most of these factors are written on the tire somewhere, the NHTSA also provides an easy reference to look up and compare any factors that come with a rating, available on their website.
- Tire Type: Winter tires are best for deep snow, summer tires are not designed for winter conditions, all-season tires can handle all weather but are not as effective in snow as winter tires, and all-terrain tires are designed to shift between on- and off-road usage.
- Tire Size: Vehicles should have a label on the inside of the driver’s side door that gives the recommended tire size for that vehicle.
- Treadwear: Tires are rated on how long they should last before wearing out. This is a relative scale based on a control tire, rated at 100. The higher the number rating, the longer the tire should last. The highest ratings are over 600.
- Traction: Tires are rated on their ability to stop on wet pavement. These ratings range from ‘AA’ at best to ‘C’ at worst.
- Temperature: Rubber breaks down in heat. Tires are rated on their ability to endure hot weather without significant deterioration, from ‘A’ at best to ‘C’ at worst.
- Tire Age: On at least one side of each tire is a string of numbers and letters that begins with DOT. The final four digits will be the week and year the tire was produced. A tire reading 2915, for instance, would have been made during the week of July 20 (the 29th week of the year), 2015.
The NHTSA recommends checking tire pressure in all your tires at least once a month and checking the tire tread when doing so. There is a tread indicator built into the tire, and tread can be checked with a penny by placing it into the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head when placed so he looks upside-down, it is time to change the tires.
For most vehicles, tires should be rotated to avoid irregular wear every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Tire rotation is not recommended for some vehicles, such as those that use different sizes between the front and back.
About 200 people die per year in tire-related accidents. When drivers don’t take their tire safety seriously, accidents happen and people get hurt. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident, contact us today to find out how we can help.