Consumer Reports Magazine recently published an article addressing the dangers resulting from tire failure. Because tires are the only components of your limousine to actually touch the ground, they are crucial to your vehicle’s proper handling and braking.
According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on tire-related crashes, the leading cause of tire failure is underinflation. Underinflation has immediate effects on vehicle handling and increases fuel consumption. It also increases stress on the tire rubber itself through flexing and overheating, leading to structural failures such as tread separation.
The Consumer Reports article says that because the sidewall flexes more at lower tire pressures, underinflation compromises the driving control that a tire is designed to provide. Even a small pressure loss can affect a car’s handling characteristics, making it harder to control. A sidewall that flexes too much can cause an excessive heat build-up which can possibly lead to a blowout. The Crash Safety Research Center at Penn State University’s Pennsylvania Transportation Institute has developed a computer simulation that shows how a tire performs with lower air pressure. The Center found that when the tire pressure is lowered, the energy used by the tire is increased significantly. The result is a rapid rise in temperature, rolling resistance and tire fatigue.
So what should you be looking for when checking your tires before heading out on the road?
Consumer Reports recommends:
- Don’t judge the pressure by just visually checking a tire. Modern radial tires bulge slightly, making them look a little underinflated even when they’re not.
- Use a tire gauge to check the pressure in all four tires and your spare.
- Set your tires to the automaker’s recommended tire pressure. This information can be found either on your doorjamb, the fuel door or on the inside of the glove
compartment lid. Don’t inflate to the “maximum inflation pressure” imprinted on
- Measure tire pressure when the tires are cold and before they’ve been driven a few miles. As the vehicle is driven, the tires heat up and the pressure rises, making it more difficult to set them to the correct cold-tire pressure.
Check your tires regularly, especially as part of your pre-trip inspection. Checking tires doesn’t take much time, and the effort is well worth your time and attention.