Tires are easy to ignore, especially during the dry summer months that make for fun summer drives through beautiful Whatcom County. They’re also easy to ignore because they are expensive, and often drivers want to get their money’s worth, driving them until the tires are well past their prime.


As Doug Dahl, blogger and manager of the Whatcom County Target Zero Task Force, writes in this recent column in the Herald, newer tires are worth the expense and do save lives. But the good news is, you don’t have to break the bank and go with the high end, high performance products.


This National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report may help convince you to pay attention to your tires. In 2003, an estimated 414 fatalities, 10,275 non-fatal injuries, and 78,392 crashes occurred annually due to flat tires or blow outs before tire pressure monitoring systems were installed in vehicles. More importantly, NHTSA discovered that the percentage of vehicles experiencing tire problems is significantly higher among vehicles that rolled over as compared to vehicle that did not roll over.  Approximately 9% of the over 2 million crashes studied by NHTSA were “tire-related” crashes with 50% of those being single vehicle crashes.

It’s important to take care of the tires you have. Here are some tips to help you keep your tires in good working order, so they can do their job of keeping your car’s four tires on the road:


  • Check pressure regularly. I know, it’s easy to forget this one, or just assume your car’s monitoring system will take care of it. But make it a point to check tires on the first fill-up of every month. Don’t forget the spare! Underinflation is the #1 cause of tire failure, and wears tire tread out faster. Also, under inflated tires can cause tire separation.
  • While you’re at it, look at your tires. The car’s computer might not detect problems until they become significant. Inspect your tires for uneven wear patterns in the tread, cracks, bumps, or chunks missing from the sidewall. Look for foreign objects or other signs of wear or trauma. Remove these objects that are wedged in the tread. Avoid external plugs except as a stop gap measure; repairs should be made by a reputable tire company from the interior of the tire.
  • Rotate and balance tires every 6,000 miles or according to the owner’s manual.  Tire rotation keeps the tires wear patterns even.  Generally, a cross rotation pattern (left front to right rear or right front to left rear) pattern is best, although a lateral rotation (left front to right front or right rear to left rear) is recommended for all wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicles.


More tips to come! Meanwhile, visit these links:


How your tires might cause your car wreck

Tips for driving in wet weather


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