“Tires are the Rodney Dangerfield of cars — they get no respect,” Dan Zielinski of the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) told TheStreet.com. “They always look round and black no matter what shape they’re in, so people say: ‘Oh, they look OK.”
According to TheStreet.com, a recent test conducted by the RMA of about 3,300 vehicles in 26 cities across the U.S. found that only 9 percent of drivers had all four tires inflated to the proper levels. Improperly inflated tires can cause blowouts and other dangerous problems, whether they are underinflated or overinflated.
The study also found that 69 percent of vehicles had at least one tire underinflated, and 18 percent of those were underinflated by 8 pounds per square inch or more – enough to trigger the dashboard warning lights. Drivers in vehicles with tire pressure lights illuminated ignored the warnings, the RMA found.
Additionally, 22 percent of the vehicles had at least one tire overinflated.
But as troublesome as this general disregard for proper tire inflation is, an RMA survey conducted last year found that just one car owner in six tests their vehicle’s tire pressure properly. Just one in three drivers checked the pressure of the spare tire, and half did not know how to recognize a bald tire, TheStreet reported.
Improper tire pressure can result in a spectrum of problems, which could lead to dangerous, life-threatening situations.
Low tire pressure, for instance, not only diminishes fuel efficiency, but it also creates excess friction that promotes a higher temperature inside the tire, which subsequently degrades the rubber and creates a higher risk of blowout.
Overinflation diminishes a vehicle’s traction because less of its tires’ tread surface contacts the road, potentially making the vehicle difficult to control in certain situations. Excessive tire pressure also creates more uneven wear on the tire, increasing wear along the center of the tread area, which increases the risk of a blowout or flat tire.
Bald tires lack sufficient tread, which means the vehicle isn’t gripping the road as it should, increasing the likelihood of a spinout or other loss of control.
“If you neglect your car’s tires and they fail at highway speeds, that can lead to a crash — and a serious one at that,” Dan Zielinski of the RMA told The Street.com.