Staying Safe on the Road
Did you know that of the 2.1 million vehicles involved in collisions, 189,000 injuries were the result of tire issues in a 24 month period? 45% of SUV’s rolled over that were experiencing tire problems. Don’t let you or your family be included in one of these statistics.
Checking Tire Pressure
10% of all vehicles involved in collisions were due to under-inflated tires. It is important to monitor your tire pressure. Many vehicles now have automatic tire pressure sensors. However, you should still check your tire pressure manually to ensure proper inflation. Proper tire pressure is determined by the vehicle manufacturer to ensure proper tire performance. Recommended tire pressure can be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.
26% of automobile crashes resulted from tread depth deficiency. As tires wear over time, performance in all conditions is reduced. This means it is important to monitor tire wear. Washington state law requires tires to have a tread depth equal to or of greater than 2/32 of an inch. A tire depth gauge is a useful tool, but for those of us that do not have the tool, myself included, there is any easy way to measure the tread depth. A penny can be used to determine proper tread depth. Place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire, with Lincoln’s head upside down or closest to the tire. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by tread, there is more than 2/32” of tread depth remaining. On the reverse side, if the top of the Lincoln Memorial is always covered by tread, you have more than 6/32” of tread depth remaining. A quarter can also be used, by placing the quarter upside down, or with Washington’s head closest to the tire. If part of Washington’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32” of tread depth remaining.
While state law requires tires to have a tread depth of 2/32 of an inch or more, it is recommended to change your tires sooner if wet road conditions are a concern, such as the conditions we have here in the great Pacific Northwest. Tires should be considered for replacement once they reach 4/32” if wet road conditions will be encountered, 5/32” if snow covered roads are a concern.
Just like most things, tires deteriorate with age, even if they are not being used. Tires are made by bonding rubber to fabric plies and steel cords and over time these bonds breakdown. As these bonds breakdown, the tire’s performance may be affected and even blowouts may occur as the bonding separates. Many factors speed the aging process, such as exposure to the elements, frequency of use, and quality of care. Many tire/rubber manufacturers have strongly recommended that tires older than 6 years should not be put into service.It is also encouraged that tires over 5 years old should be inspected to determine if the tires are safe for continued use. So, even if a tire has never been used, if it is over 5 years old, it should be inspected by a technician to determine safety of use.
Winter Tire Storage
The days are getting longer, and the temperature is beginning to change. Well, maybe not these last few weeks, but spring is right around the corner. Along with, hopefully better weather, spring means changing your winter tires. If you have studded tires, Washington state requires all studded tires be removed from vehicles no later than March 31st. You may be wondering the best way to store your winter tires. For those of us that do not change tires during the winter, this is still a good time of year to perform a tire check to make sure tires are safe and meet legal requirements.
If you have winter tires, you should consider how to store them during the warmer months. Storage of winter tires is important as proper storage can help extend the life of the tires.
- After removal, tires should be cleaned to prevent oil, grease or other particles from damaging the tire during storage.
- Keep the tire stored indoors, in a cool area and away from direct sunlight.
- Keep tires clear of any materials, such as chemicals, that could damage the tire.
- Store the tires in protective bags, which can be purchased from many on-line retail stores.
What About the Spare?
Most of us forget about the spare tire.Out of sight out of mind, until a flat occurs. Most of us, also, do not think about replacing the spare when a new set of tires is purchased, or one of the older tires becomes the new spare. Well, the same aging process occurs to spare tires as it does to those being used. Spare tires should be monitored for tire pressure as well as age.Just like any other tire, the spare tire should be checked for safety purposes if it is over 5 years old.
How to Read a Tire
So how can you figure out the age of a tire? We have all seen the markings on the side of the tire. The writing on the side of the tire can provide lots of information, such as tire size, maximum air pressure, tire speed rating and tire age. When checking for tire age, you should look for the letters DOT. Immediately following the letters DOT should be a series of 10-12 characters. This code will tell you the week, year and place the tire was manufactured, tire size and the manufacturer’s unique code. For tires manufactured from the year 2000 through the present, the last four digits of the code will tell you the week and year made. So, if the last four digits are 2017, the tire was manufactured in the 20th week of 2017 and is less than 1 year old. If your tires were manufactured before the year 2000, the coding is different, but it is probably time for a new set.
Tires are also sometimes part of a manufacturer recall due to a defect or safety concern. You should be aware of any tire recalls. Usually the manufacture will try to contact all consumers of the tires being recalled, but it may not be possible to track all recalled tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides information on their website about recalls. There are also other free sites on the internet that provide information about tire recalls.
At Palace Law we handle collisions of all types, including tire failure. Contact Palace Law if you’ve been injured due to tire defects.