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Tire safety tips

Know your tires and prevent a tragedy

(May 2013) – You may want to pay closer attention to the quality and air pressure of the tires that are on your vehicle. It could save your life.

Bald or under-inflated tires can separate from the rim or blow out, causing a serious accident at a moment's notice. These conditions also contribute to shorter tire life and worse fuel consumption.

Twenty-seven percent of all passenger cars and 33 percent of light trucks (including sport utility vehicles, vans and pickup trucks) are driven with at least one tire that's substantially under-inflated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Nine percent of the passenger cars are driven with at least one bald tire.

To assure you're riding on safe tires, follow these NHTSA guidelines and standards on tire inflation, tread and vehicle load limits.

Tire inflation:

  • Know the recommended air pressure (measured in pounds per square inch) for your vehicle and tires. This information can be found on your vehicle's tires, information placard (the label attached to the door edge, doorpost, glove box door or inside the trunk lid) and owner's manual.
  • Check your tires once a month with an accurate air gauge. To get a correct reading, you must check the air pressure when the tires are cold (unused for at least three hours).

Tire tread:

  • Make sure you have the correct tire size for your vehicle. This can be found on the sidewall of the tire, information placard and owner's manual.
  • Check the tire tread. Tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. Bald tires are more prone to damage caused by road debris.
  • Conduct the “penny” test if you're unsure if you need new tires. Place a penny in the tread with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, you need new tires.
  • Tires have built-in tread indicators that consist of raised sections spaced throughout the bottom of the tread grooves. When these sections appear even with the outside of the tread, you should replace your tires.

Vehicle load limits:

  • Check your vehicle's information placards and owner's manual to find the recommended limit. The vehicle load limit is the greatest amount of weight a vehicle can safely carry with the vehicle's tire size.
  • Know the vehicle capacity weight (VCW), the maximum occupant and cargo weight a vehicle is designed to carry. This is important to keep in mind when loading your vehicle or hauling items.
  • Know the front and rear gross axle weight ratings (GAWR), the maximum weight the axle systems are designed to carry. This is also important to keep in mind to ensure safety in hauling and towing items with your vehicle.

SOURCE: American Family Insurance


To learn more about maintaining and protecting your car visit the American Family My Car Learning Center or the Learning Center YouTube Channel.

American Family insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company. Web:; Facebook:; Twitter: