Under inflated tires cause U.S. drivers to waste 1.2 billion gallons of fuel annually, use Continental Tire's tips to help save 12 cents a gallon at the pump.
With summer comes an increase in driving and Continental Tire wants to help people across the U.S. save money, be kind to the environment, and arrive to their destinations safely by providing a few easy maintenance tips. But first, it's worth noting a few statistics from a 2010 survey conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). Survey findings include:
- Only 17% of vehicles had four properly inflated tires.
- 55% of vehicles had at least one under inflated tire.
- Nearly 7 out of 10 drivers do not check the tire pressure in their spare tire.
- Just 15% of motorists revealed that they know how to correctly check tire pressure.
These findings coupled with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistic that underinflated tires contribute to more than 600 highway fatalities and 33,000 thousand injuries each year is astonishing. Additionally, under inflated tires cause U.S. drivers to waste 1.2 billion gallons of fuel annually and with gas prices reaching $4.00 a gallon, who can afford that. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, properly inflated tires can improve fuel efficiency by 3.3 percent and save 12 cents per gallon at the pump.
"We can't stress enough the importance of proper tire inflation," said Bill Caldwell, vice president of marketing for Continental Tire. "It's one of the easiest ways to help improve fuel economy while prolonging the life of your tires and keeping your family safe on the road. And it only takes a few minutes each month."
Tire maintenance is the first line of defense when it comes to car maintenance. Continental Tire recommends that motorists take five minutes every month to check their tires, including the spare. The RMA's Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART program is an easy way for motorists to implement proper tire maintenance. PART, an acronym for Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread, covers the four key elements of tire care which include:
- P ressure– check tire pressure regularly – once per month and before every long trip – including the spare. Tire pressure should be checked when tires are cold (car has not been driven for at least three hours). The correct tire pressure can be found in the car owner manual, on the gas tank lid, the driver's side door edge, or on the door post. Tire pressure must be the same on the tires of each axle, but may be different on the front and rear axle. And remember to tightly close the valve caps to protect the valve from dust and dirt and to prevent leaking. Replace missing valve caps without delay.
- Note: While new vehicles are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), these systems issue a low pressure warning only after tire pressure drops 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure. In many cases a slight drop in air pressure would not trigger a warning light and would cause a loss of fuel economy and could lead to vehicle safety issue. Even with TPMS, motorists need to check tire pressure with a tire gauge every month.
- A lignment– A jolt from hitting a pothole or curb can put a front end out of alignment and damage tires. Misalignment of wheels in the front or rear can cause uneven and rapid treadwear and should be corrected by a tire dealer. Have the alignment checked periodically as specified by the vehicle' owner's manual or if trouble such as a "pulling" sensation or vibration is experienced.
- R otation– Unless a vehicle owner's manual has a specific recommendation, the guideline for tire rotation is approximately every 5,000 – 8,000 miles. Rotating a vehicle's tires regularly will help achieve more uniform wear. If uneven wear is experienced, ask a tire dealer to check for and correct any misalignment, imbalance or other mechanical problem involved before rotation.
- T read –Proper tread depth is essential to prevent hydroplaning and skidding. The minimum tread depth is 2/32nd of an inch (1.6 mm). Advanced and unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to properly grip the road in adverse conditions. Visually check tires for uneven wear, looking for high and low areas or unusually smooth areas and any signs of damage. Motorists should also check sidewalls for gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.
In addition to the PART program, it's important to replace tires with the same type of tires that came on the vehicle as original equipment (including tire size, type and speed rating). Other potential hazards to avoid include potholes, debris in the road, fast stops and starts, and hitting or driving over curbs. All of these things can cause tire trouble. Remember, when packing for that summer road trip, it's important not to overload a vehicle as that can shorten the tire life. Motorists can check the owner's manual for the vehicle's maximum load.
Just a few minutes each month will help motorists across the country save money, help the environment and arrive to their destinations safely.