DOT Urges Motorists to Check Tires Before Long Trips This Summer

As the summer travel season kicks off in June and families plan to hit the road, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is encouraging all motorists to check their car’s tires for wear and tear before they drive in hot weather. This is a problem around the nation in the summer but especially a problem in Florida year round because heat is known to degrade rubber tires.

Tire blowouts are frequently in the news. It was a Florida tire blowout accident that killed two teenagers last July in Jacksonville. Five teens died when a tire blew on their Ford Explorer SUV as they headed to the beach on the last day of school a year ago June.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2005 to 2009 almost 3,400 people died and 116,000 were injured in crashes related to tire issues.

The NHTSA encourages motorists to check tires in hot weather when there are additional people and luggage in the car increasing its weight. Motorists should check for underinflated or overinflated tires by checking the tire pressure before a long trip and regularly. A look on the side of the tire or in your automobile owner’s guide will specify the proper tire inflation for the front and back tires.

An aging tire and hot weather are a particularly bad combination. The sidewall of the tire will tell how old it is. The tire manufacturer or the owner’s manual will tell you how often to change tires. And consumers can save money if their tires are properly inflated. Check to see how much underinflated tires will cost you (0.3 percent lower gas mileage for every 1 pound per square inch).

The numbers can really add up – just a 25 percent drop in tire pressure can reduce fuel economy by 8.8 percent or 2.6 miles per gallon for a vehicle that gets 30 miles to the gallon. Do the math: There is a substantial savings to have your tires properly maintained, not to mention a possible savings in human lives.