Road safety is our number one priority as soon as we get behind the wheel – at least we like to think it is. Certainly, we do our part by trying not to be distracted, by driving sober and by getting our oil changed when it needs it. All too often though, we forget about our tire pressure. Believe it or not, being mindful of tire pressure is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road.
The best habit is to check your pressure every month. Give yourself a mnemonic like “Tuesday Tire Pressure” to remind yourself to give it a test on the first Tuesday of each month. When you do, make sure you understand how to do it properly and why it’s so important. The more you realize that this practice could save you from a crash, the better off you’ll be.
This all starts with knowing the right tires are on your car in the first place. The size of a tire is important, of course, as vehicles are designed to have tires of specific sizes. Tires that are too large for certain cars will have a significantly short lifetime due to additional wear. Large tires can also cause other problems for smaller cars that can range anywhere from and uncomfortable ride to a potential accident. Tire pressure is also based on the size of the tire being used and understanding how to maintain tire pressure properly can ensure that tires last as long as possible.
Next, remember that the amount you’re carrying in your car will change the rules a little bit. That’s where the load index of a tire comes into play, that is, the weight the tire can carry safely. The load index is based on a tire’s maximum pressure, so if tire pressure is not maintained, load index may be skewed, which could lead to potential dangers when driving.
Treadwear grade has to do with the expected wear a tire can take before becoming potentially dangerous. These grades are assigned by tire manufacturers and not by independent parties. Traction and temperature scores measure a tire’s wet-stopping ability and resistance to temperatures above and below what would be considered normal. Speed rating denotes how fast a vehicle can go while carrying a load. Higher ratings mean that vehicles can carry more at faster speeds safely.
Drivers should check pressure every month to ensure that their tires are maintained properly. On average a tire will drop from two to five pounds of pressure each month, depending on a range of factors. According to the Firestone tire manufacturer, all tires will lose a tiny amount of pressure each day – but that adds up. Tire gauges are relatively inexpensive and easily obtainable and making sure a tire’s pressure is maintained can actually prevent disaster.