Tire Blowouts and Car Accidents: What You Need to Know
Anyone who has ever experienced a tire blowout while they’ve been driving, particularly at freeway speeds, understands all too well the feelings of fear and powerlessness that accompany such an event. It happens more often than you may think, too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number one vehicle malfunction related cause of car accidents is the vehicle’s tires. In terms of percentages, it’s estimated that faulty tires are the cause of approximately 5 percent of all car accidents in the United States every year. That number may not seem high until you consider that, on average, there are more than 5 million car accidents annually. Fortunately, you don’t have to become a statistic. Instead, there are steps you can take to ensure that your car’s tires are always road ready.
Not all tires are made alike, so tire safety begins with choosing the right tires for your car. Obviously, choosing the right sized tire is important, but there are other factors to consider as well. For example, where you buy the tires can make a difference in the age and quality of the tire selection. A tire’s age is important because tires begin to break down over time. If you purchase new tires that are more than two years beyond their manufactured date, you run a higher risk of a blowout occurrence because the rubber and steel belts are more prone to separate as they heat up on the road. Before you jump on that great tire deal thinking you can save some money, look at the tire’s date of manufacture. It can be found on the outer sidewall of the tire, and is the last four digits of the serial number that begins with the letters ‘DOT’. If, for example,the tire’s date shows ‘2512’, then it was manufactured in the 25th2012. If you discover a tire was manufactured more than two years ago, and still want to take advantage of a deal, ask for a newer replacement. Either that or make another selection.
Don’t risk a tire blowout just to save a few dollars.
Once you have selected and installed your new tires, it’s up to you to keep them maintained. Common consensus dictates that tires should be rotated at every oil change, and that’s a good general guideline. It helps keep the wear on the tires even, which also aids in keeping the car balanced on the road. Another way to keep your tires safe and in good condition is to monitor the tire pressure. Not only does proper tire pressure help prevent blowouts and car accidents, but it saves money on gas, too. Since each vehicle manufacturer’s suggested tire inflation pressure level can vary slightly, find out what the recommendation is for your car by either looking in the owner’s manual or inside the driver’s door panel. Check your tire pressure once a month, and make sure to do it while the tires are cold. That way, you’ll get a more accurate reading since the tire’s air will not have expanded because of the heat. Finally, and just as importantly, keep an eye on the tread of the tires. You may have 100,000 mile tires on your car, but depending on how and where your car is driven, you may need to swap out your tires sooner than you intended.
The easiest way to check the tread is to do the ‘penny test’ with which most people are familiar. If you aren’t comfortable gauging it yourself, take your car to a local reputable tire dealer. They usually offer free tire inspections, and reputable dealers won’t try to talk you into buying tires you don’t need yet!
The truth is that it’s easy to help yourself avoid a blowout that could lead to a car accident. The formula is simple – the right tires and the proper maintenance. Choose value over cheap when selecting your tires, rotate them on time, and learn how to monitor the inflation level and tread of your tires. You’ll save money on gas and premature tire replacement, and you could also save lives by avoiding a blowout in the first place.