AAA: Pay attention to tire pressure, tread

With much of winter still ahead, and an increasing number of calls coming in, AAA is urging motorists to pay attention to the two tire issues most likely to result in the need for emergency roadside service.

“Drivers must make sure their tires are properly inflated and that they have sufficient tread to grip wet or snow-covered roads,” said Matt Keber, manager of AAA Tire & Auto Center, Perrysburg.

At this time, AAA is seeing tire-related issues that are exceeding what it was pre-pandemic so drivers are being encouraged to pay attention to their tires – or pay a price.

“Neglecting basic vehicle maintenance, such as rotating tires, has been far too common throughout the pandemic, resulting in more wear and tear – and additional expense,” Keber added. “Routines may have changed but routine car care is still critical.”

Tires that have not been properly inflated to adjust for colder temperatures are more likely to result in a flat or blowout and tires with a worn tread are more likely to result in a crash. The good news, though, is that both of these tire troubles are easy to resolve.

Check tire pressure

Keeping your vehicle’s tires properly inflated to the automaker’s recommended pressures is a critical element of tire maintenance. Tires that contain the specified amount of air pressure last longer and contribute to vehicle safety.

Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare.

As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb.

Check tire tread

Adequate tread depth is necessary for a tire to maintain traction on slippery roads. You can measure tread depth with an inexpensive gauge available at any auto parts store or you can use the traditional quarter test demonstrated in the photo.

Insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of Washington’s head facing down. If the top of his head is not visible, your tires are fine for continued use. If you can see above the top of Washington’s head, it is time to start shopping for new tires. Take multiple measurements across the tread to help ensure accurate results.

Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Previous AAA research indicates that driving on worn tires at highway speeds increase stopping distance by a staggering 43% compared to new tires, putting drivers, and their passengers, at increased risk.

AAA urges drivers to check tread depth, replace tires proactively, and increase following distances significantly when roadways are wet or snow-covered.