tire with safety facts

Tire Safety Practices

Before even starting your vehicle, your tires should be properly maintained and in good working condition. The more you know and understand about your tire’s health, the better off you will be when driving your vehicle. There are four main factors when it comes to the health of your tires: tread depth, tire age, tire inflation/load and keeping up with routine maintenance.

Always consult the owner’s manual of your vehicle, as well as your tire manufacturer’s literature for specific information about vehicle/tire performance. The intent of Discount Tire is to supplement and not supersede this material. In the event of a conflict in the materials, you should always rely upon the recommendations of your vehicle and tire manufacturers.

Know Your Numbers

At Discount Tire, our first consideration is the safety of our customers. Only your tires connect your vehicle to the pavement, so they play a major role in your safety on the road. The major factors that ensure the safety of your tires are their tread depth, age, inflation, load capacity and how well they’ve been maintained.

Tread Depth Safety

Tread depth refers to the amount of tread remaining on a tire. This is calculated by measuring the distance between the top of the tread block to the bottom of the tread void. This number is normally displayed in 32nds of an inch but can also be measured in millimeters. The amount of tread remaining on a tire impacts handling, traction, and stopping distance. As a tire wears and the tread depth is reduced, these characteristics begin to diminish. This effect is amplified when driving in adverse conditions such as wet or slick roads.

Infographic - wet stopping distances increase as tread depth is depleted

As you can see in the wet stopping distance chart above, tread depth affects how well your vehicle can stop, especially on wet roads. It is very important to be aware of how much remaining tread is on all of your tires and how it impacts you.

Tire Aging Safety

When it comes to tire aging, it is very simple: the older the tires are, the higher the risk for failure. Tires are made of rubber, which begins to break down over time.

A publication released in 2008 from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society entitled “Rubber Oxidation and Tire Aging - A Review,” goes into detail of how an aged tire has reduced crack growth resistance, which can lead to an increased rate of tire failure. As a tire ages, oxygen penetrates the rubber causing the rubber to start breaking down on a molecular level. The rubber begins to become harder and more brittle, losing its elasticity and strength.

After a point, the tire’s ability to carry weight is reduced and it could potentially fail. Even if a tire has never been put into service or has very little use, it has still been exposed to time and elements causing its integrity to be compromised.

The age of a tire can be determined by the DOT number stamped on the sidewall of every tire produced for street use. NHTSA has also conducted studies on tire aging and released findings showing a link between tire aging and the increased chances of tire failure. 

Most tire and automobile manufacturers recommend replacing your tires between 6 and 10 years. At Discount Tire, we recommend replacing any tire that is 6 years or more past the date of manufacture and will not service tires that are 10 years or more past the date of manufacture.

Tire Inflation Safety and Load Capacity

A properly inflated tire is also important when it comes to tire safety. As documented by the NHTSA, an under-inflated tire increases the chance of tire failure. A tire must be able to hold the weight of not only the vehicle, but also any additional load the vehicle might be carrying, such as fuel, passengers, and payload. A tire alone does not have the strength to support this. As air pressure builds inside the tire, the sidewalls gain strength and with the proper air pressure, it can now support the vehicle safely.

An under-inflated tire cannot support the vehicle and quickly becomes compromised. Driving on an under-inflated tire will begin to generate excess heat causing the rubber to break down. Eventually, the tire will no longer be able to withstand the excess load and fail.

You must check your air pressure often to prevent driving on under-inflated tires. Discount Tire recommends you refer to your owner’s manual or vehicle placard to find the correct tire inflation for your vehicle.

All vehicles from 2008 to current come equipped with a tire pressure monitor system (TPMS) to help monitor air pressure and alert the driver if the pressure falls 25% or more below the manufacturer's recommended inflation.

Routine Tire Maintenance

Proper and timely tire maintenance is crucial to safety. All of the tires on your vehicle should be inspected, inflated, and rotated on a routine basis.

  • Inspect your tires every month. Inspecting your tires will help identify any damage or conditions that might impede your safety. By evaluating the remaining tread, your tires’ age, and overall condition, you can eliminate preventable risks that could potentially lead to an accident.

  • Check your air pressure every month. Inflating your tires will ensure they have the proper air pressure to sustain the weight of your vehicle. As mentioned before, an under-inflated tire highly increases the chance of tire failure.

  • Rotate your tires every 6,000-8,000 miles. Rotating your tires helps prolong tread life, thus maximizing the handling, traction, and stopping capabilities of your tires. This also requires removing the tire from the vehicle which allows for a more thorough tire inspection.

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If you have any questions or need any assistance, stop by your local Discount Tire and we’ll get you taken care of.

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