During Earth Month, the Automobile Club reminds us that motorists can do their part not just on Earth Day but all throughout the year to help the environment, save gas, and be safe with one simple action: checking their vehicle's tire pressure. Properly inflated tires improve vehicle safety while reducing emissions and gas usage, says the Auto Club.
The Auto Club, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (representing the tire industry), the California Highway Patrol, and Yokohama Tire Company joined forces at an event in Southern California during National Tire Safety Week, April 20-26, to draw drivers' attention to the safety and economic benefits of basic tire care.
Michelin and American Le Mans Series (ALMS) driver, Stefan Johansson, are also promoting tire safety and maintenance tips for National Tire Safety Week, focusing on proper tire inflation as the number-one priority for drivers when it comes to tire safety and performance.
"The Auto Club responds to about 144,000 tire-related calls annually, so we know the importance of correct inflation and good tire tread," said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center. "The Auto Club also advocates proper tire care to improve fuel economy, reduce vehicle emissions, and increase motorists' efforts toward greener living."
The groups also are distributing 13,500 handy "tire tread depth cards" and "Tire Smart" brochures to consumers this week. AAA-Approved Auto Repair facilities also will check tires and pressure free of charge for members and the public during the promotion week. A list of participating facilities can be found at AAA.com.
"A motorist survey this year by the Rubber Manufacturers Association found that 85 percent of American drivers do not properly check tire inflation pressure. This is an alarming statistic since tires are the only part of a vehicle in contact with the road and a critical vehicle safety component," said James MacMaster, chairman of the RMA Board of Directors.
Michelin encourages drivers to visit www.MichelinMan.com/ rotation-reminder to review its online tire maintenance tips. The site offers a tire rotation reminder e-mail alert and consumers who sign up for the alert by April 30, 2008 will have an opportunity to participate in the Michelin Be Safe and Check Your Tires Promotion to win a VIP trip to an American Le Mans Series race if they sign-up for a free tire rotation reminder between April 18-30 at MichelinMan.com."
Vehicle handling can be adversely affected by improperly inflated tires: Under-inflated tires run hot, which can lead to tire failure and a possible crash. Over-inflated tires can have uneven wear and make tires more susceptible to road hazard damage. . According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under-inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure, which accounts for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year.
"Drivers across the U.S. can battle rising gas prices by simply maintaining proper tire inflation," said Takao Oishi, Yokohama Tire Corporation CEO and president. "Current statistics indicate that 82 million vehicles have under-inflated tires, which means more rubber is hitting the road and, accordingly, miles-per-gallon is lessened. In fact, tire experts speculate that 2.8 billion gallons of gas is wasted by U.S. drivers each year simply because they're driving on under-inflated tires."
The Auto Club and its partners estimate that a motorist who drives an average of 12,000 miles annually on tires that are under-inflated by 5-8 PSI is wasting up to 50 gallons of gasoline -- or $192.50 at $3.85 a gallon - each year. That's close to the cost of a week's worth of groceries ($226) for a family of four, according to the US Dept. of Agriculture. If there are two vehicles in the family, that total comes to $380, well over a week's worth of food for the family.
"The CHP's traffic safety commitment extends to safety campaigns like these which aim to reduce needless fatalities and injuries on California highways," said Sgt. Mark Garrett. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that under-inflated tires are a factor in 660 fatalities and 33,000 crash injuries each year. Additional research shows that 27 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tire, according to a NHTSA survey. Moreover, 32 percent of light trucks (SUVs, vans and pickup trucks) are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tire, according to the study.
The Auto Club recommends that motorists regularly check tires when cool for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation. Refer to the vehicle's doorjamb or glove box for original equipment specifications or the manufacturer of the replacement tire for proper inflation. The correct pounds per square inch of air pressure that's right for tires is located on the vehicle's tire information label - not the sidewall of the tire.
California and many other states have minimum tread depth laws. Passenger cars shouldn't operate on tires below 2/32-inch tread depth. If you need to purchase new tires, be sure replacements meet manufacturers speed/load specifications for your vehicle. That's where those handy tire tread depth cards come in handy: They fit easily into a wallet or glovebox and can be used to check tire tread regularly. And if you don't have the official tread checker, motorists can use a coin as a tire tread depth gauge: simply place a U.S. penny, Lincoln's head first, into several tread grooves. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by tread, then more than 2/32-inch tread depth remains.
Information about Auto Club's products and services is available at AAA.com. For more information about Rubber Manufacturers Association, visit www.betiresmart.org . For additional info on Yokohama's extensive product line, visit www.yokohamatire.com , or to find out more about the company's environmental efforts, check out www.ecotreadsetters.com . Find out more about Michelin North America at www.michelinman.com .