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Few motorists considered 'tire smart,' Rubber Manufacturers Association says

Posted On Tue, June 4, 2013

Even though the tires are perhaps the most important component of the vehicle - often providing motorists with lower auto insurance rates thanks to improving fuel efficiency - a surprisingly small percentage of men and women routinely perform proper tire maintenance tasks.

According to a new survey conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association, only one in five men - 20 percent - are considered "tire smart," as the RMA describes it. And among women, just 14 percent could be given this distinction. "Tire smart" is defined as those who check their tire pressure at least once every month. In addition, those who epitomize this designation understand that they need to check their tires during especially cold conditions and know where they can find the information that tells them the precise amount of air that should be put into the tires.

There's even some variation among the generations when it comes to the people who are the most and least likely to maintain proper tire servicing. The poll found that for motorists 60 years of age and older, 27 percent were tire smart. In stark contrast, only 8 percent were considered as such among motorists between the ages of 18 and 39.

How to remember what tires maintenance tasks need to be done
In order to remind today's motorists - both young and old - about what they should do on a regular basis with regards to maintaining healthy tires, the RMA offers a mnemonic device: PART.

"P" stands for pressure. There are generally two locations where motorists can locate the amount of air that their tires ought to receive - in the manufacturer's manual and the inside of the door or the door jamb. If after checking the tire it is above or below the prescribed level, it should be adjusted accordingly.

The "A" in PART refers to Alignment. When wheels are not flush with one another, they tend to wear down more quickly. Also some of the tires may reveal wear that's dissimilar from the other, leading to a less smooth ride. As a general rule, have the tires rotated once every 6,000 miles, which happen to be what the "R" stands for in the acronym.

The final component of PART is "T" which stands for tread. Of course, the tread are the grooves that give tires their ability to grip the ground, thereby avoiding adverse weather conditions resulting from snow and hydroplaning caused by high water levels. If there are signs of unevenness or if they are bald, it's best to have the tires replaced as soon as possible.

One of the best ways of determining how much tread the typical tire should have is by using a penny. By placing a penny within one of the grooves of a tire with the Abraham Lincoln's head pointed downward, motorists should not be able to see the top of his head. If they can see it, that's generally a good indication that tread depth is too shallow.

Improper tire maintenance often responsible for highway fatalities
Each year, far too many motorists are injured or killed after a motor vehicle accident that occurred because of improper tire pressure. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 200 highway fatalities take place annually.

Many of today's cars issue reminders to motorists about tire maintenance. On the dashboard, a light or some other type of alert is manifested, pointing out not only that tire pressure is low but which tire has an insufficient amount of air.

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