It is National Tire Safety Week and the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality Clean Air Program is encouraging everyone to check tires monthly and, when necessary, “air up and save.” Monthly checks help your tires last longer, increase your driving safety, save you money on gasoline, and reduce the amount of air pollution your car creates.
How can one simple action have such benefits?
● Well-inflated tires wear more evenly and the tread lasts longer. Over the years, fewer trips to the tire store can save you thousands of dollars. Currently, over 63,000 tires are collected and recycled every month at the Pima County Waste Tire Collection Facility.
● Properly inflated tires are safer and less likely to fail at high speeds. Under-inflated tires make for longer stopping distances and will skid farther on wet surfaces. Under-inflated tires contribute to more than 600 highway deaths and 33,000 injuries each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
● When tires are not inflated to the pounds per square inch (PSI) rating recommended by manufacturers, they are less “round” and require more energy (fuel) to begin moving and maintain speed since they drag more against the road. U.S. drivers waste 2 million gallons of gas a day due to under-inflated tires. Keeping the tire pressure up will definitely reduce your visits to the gas pump.
According to fueleconomy.gov, inflating tires to their proper pressure can improve mileage by about 3.3 percent. That may not sound like much, but it means that the average person who drives 12,000 miles yearly on under-inflated tires uses about 144 extra gallons of gas, at a cost of $400-$500 a year.
● Each time a gallon of gas is burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are added to the atmosphere. Any vehicle running on soft tires is contributing as much as 1.5 extra tons (2,880 pounds) of greenhouse gases to the environment annually. Emissions of other air pollutants like carbon monoxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen dioxide also increase when we drive on underinflated tires.
● Vehicles equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems warn drivers when tires are 25 percent under-inflated. This warning can be too late to prevent damage caused by under-inflation, so monthly checks with a gauge are still important.
Make a habit of checking your tires during the first fill-up each month. You will save money, help your tires last longer and keep the air healthy to breathe.
The “How To” for Your Tire Inflation Inspection
For those who are unsure about how to check your tires, here are step by step instructions to assist you.
Check your tires’ pressure once a month with a tire gauge for improved safety on the road, to reduce air pollution and save money. A visual check is not enough since a tire can be under-inflated by more than 20 percent and not look flat. Tire gauges are inexpensive and readily available at auto parts stores.
Tire Tip #1: Pressure should be checked on “cold” tires – either first thing in the morning or after the tires have cooled down for about three hours. Checking tire pressure on a car with hot tires can result in a pressure difference of up to 5 psi.
Tire Tip #2: Look for the recommended tire air pressure in the owner’s manual, inside the driver’s side car door or in the glove compartment. Add 2 to 4 psi when carrying a heavy load or pulling a trailer.
Check Tire Air Pressure in Six Easy Steps:
1. Remove the tire’s valve cap.
2. Place the gauge over the tire’s valve stem and press firmly so that no air escapes. A dial or sliding scale gauge will indicate the tire pressure. It is best to invest in your own high-quality pressure gauge because gas station gauges are sometimes misused and may not be accurate.
3. Adjust the tire’s air pressure as needed. If the pressure is lower than recommended, add air using a gas station’s air line. When adding air, push the air hose into the valve firmly, until the air stops escaping. Check the pressure every 30 seconds, until you get the appropriate pressure.
4. If the tire’s pressure is greater than it should be, use the nipple on the tire gauge to press the center of the tire valve stem and release air until correct pressure is obtained.
5. Replace the valve cap.
6. Repeat the process for the other tires, circling the car. Remember to check the spare tire.
Follow these steps each month and you will be on your way to saving hundreds of dollars in reduced fuel costs and premature tire replacement, improving air quality through reduced tailpipe emissions, as well as reducing tire waste.
For more information contact the Pima County DEQ Clean Air Program at 243-7446.