Tire Makers Urge Drivers to 'Air' on the Side of Safety, Savings

Jun 07, 2010, 04:30 ET from Rubber Manufacturers Association

New Survey Finds 55% of Vehicles Have At Least One Under Inflated Tire

WASHINGTON, June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new survey being released for the ninth annual National Tire Safety Week (June 6-12) shows that millions of drivers around the country are failing to properly maintain their tires and are putting themselves at risk while wasting gas and money.

The nationwide survey, conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), found that fifty-five percent of vehicles had at least one under inflated tire and only one in six vehicles had four properly inflated tires.

RMA is the national trade association for tire makers who manufacture in the U.S.  The group worked with several tire retailers to collect actual tire pressure measurements from more than 6,300 vehicles in more than 30 cities.  (To see a map with results from individual markets, visit www.betiresmart.org.)

Best/Worst Performing Cities

The survey's best performing cities, those with a higher percentage of vehicles with four properly inflated tires, were Honolulu, Baltimore, Boston, Providence and Charlotte.  At the bottom of the list were Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Antonio and Birmingham.

2010 National Survey Findings

  • 17 percent of vehicles had four properly inflated tires.
  • 55 percent of vehicles had at least one under inflated tire.
  • 15 percent of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 8 pounds per square inch (psi).
  • 20 percent of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 6 psi.
  • 31 percent of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 4 psi.

Compared to a similar survey last year, motorists showed some improvement in tire care habits.  This year almost twice as many vehicles had four properly inflated tires as had last year.  

During National Tire Safety Week, RMA strives to educate motorists about the importance of proper tire care.  

"National Tire Safety Week is the tire industry's opportunity to focus on consumer education," said Charles A. Cannon, RMA president and CEO.  "Our industry's top priority is safety."

Proper Tire Inflation Saves Gas

Properly inflated tires can improve fuel efficiency by 3.3 percent and save nine cents per gallon at the pump, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  Approximately 1.2 billion gallons of fuel are wasted each year by U.S. motorists driving on under inflated tires.

Under Inflated Tires Pose Safety Risk

Under inflated tires also pose a safety risk.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that under inflated tires contribute to more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System Doesn't Replace Monthly Tire Check

Although all new vehicles are now equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), these systems issue a low pressure warning only after tire pressure drops 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure.  In many cases, an 8 psi loss of pressure would not be enough to trigger a warning light and would cause a loss of fuel economy and could lead to a vehicle safety issue.  Even with TPMS, motorists need to check tire pressure with a tire gauge every month.

Quick Tire Care Tips

Motorists should check tire pressure once each month; check tires when cold – before the vehicle is driven and; use the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure found on a label located on the driver's door, door post or owner's manual.

"Checking your tires at least once a month is an easy way to improve your safety, and the safety of those on the road around you, while reducing the costs of vehicle ownership," said John Nielsen, AAA, Director of Auto Repair and Buying Services.  "Catching and correcting problems early, such as low tire pressure or uneven tread wear can greatly extend the life of your tires."

The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry.  Its members manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.  All RMA press releases are available at www.rma.org.  

SOURCE Rubber Manufacturers Association