Time to Check Your Tires

You may not think of summer as the season to be concerned with weather-related driving safety, but it’s not just snow and freezing temperatures that can cause problems. High temperatures and humidity can pose challenges as well. For one thing, they can increase the risk of tread separation on tires, which can rapidly result in a highly dangerous loss of control or a blowout. Whether you are taking an out-of-town trip or are just heading to the store, take a moment at least once this summer to check your tires. Once simple objects constructed by encasing air in rubber, tires are now far more sophisticated products. Today’s tires are made of many materials, including natural rubber, synthetic rubber, steel, and high-tech fabrics. They also have several layers such as inner liners, body plies, beads, belts, sidewalls, and tread. According to one manufacturer, “While tread designs vary tremendously, the elements of the tread are consistent in their use. The tread block provides traction at its leading and trailing edge. Within the block, sipes are often molded or cut to provide additional traction. Grooves are built into tread designs for channeling away water. Shoulder designs provide protection as well as additional traction during hard cornering.” Whether or not you realized what you were looking at, you’ve undoubtedly seen tread on the road. It litters our nation’s streets, causing one hazard when it separates from a moving vehicle and another as an obstruction for the traffic still to come. Tire deterioration is accelerated by heat, raising the possibility of tread separation. Hot weather causes the air inside the tire to expand. In fact, tire pressure will go up approximately one pound for every ten degrees Fahrenheit. Under certain conditions, that increase in pressure is enough to cause a blowout. The easiest way to handle this issue is to check the pressure of your tires and keep them properly inflated. Under-inflation means that the tire is overloaded, and hot weather increases the amount of internal heat that builds up as a result of this excessive flexing. Over-inflation can cause heat build-up due to wear being primarily in the center of the tread with less wear at the periphery. Many electronic tire pressure monitoring systems only alert to low tire pressure and should not be relied on to notify drivers about impending tire trouble.

Tire pressure should be checked once a month at a time when they are cold (first thing before driving or after at least three hours after driving).
Checking tire pressure on a vehicle that has warm tires can return an inaccurate pressure reading of up to five pounds per square inch higher than the recommended pressure. To determine the right pressure for your tires, do not use the number printed on their sidewall. That is the maximum pressure. Instead, look on the driver’s side door jamb for a sticker, or in the owner’s manual, to find the pressure recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Examining your tires for uneven wear patterns, cracks, or bulges is also a good idea. All tires now have built-in “wear bars,” which appear when a tire is worn and should be replaced. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident by an unsafe motor vehicle, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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