Are Your Car Tires Safe?

Based on the latest available data – 2009, motor vehicle traffic crashes were the leading cause of death for age 4 and every age 11 through 27. What’s most alarming is that of the 2.2 million accidents per year, among inexperienced drivers, 12 percent can be attributed to tire related issues, such as insufficient tread or pressure.

In a new survey released in August 2014, it was reported that a majority of teens can’t or don’t know how to change a flat tire or check the air pressure or condition (tire treads) of the tire. The survey, completed by 1001 U.S. teens between the ages of 15-17, reported that 52% of them can’t replace/change a tire; 44% of them don’t know how to check/examine the tire’s condition; and 32% can’t figure out how to check tire pressure.

Because many of these accidents (due to tire pressure and/or insufficient tread) are preventable, we wanted to give you a few tips on how to check your tire pressure and how to change a flat tire:

How to Check Air Pressure:

Tires can lose as much as 1psi (pounds per square inch) over the course of a month, so it’s important to check all of your tires and the spare monthly, and especially before a trip:

  1. Purchase a pressure gauge from your local automotive parts store.
  2. Check your tires “cold”, a state that can be found either before you drive or three hours since your last drive.
  3. Insert pressure gauge into the valve stem on your tire. (The gauge will “pop” out and show a measured number. When you hear a “pssst” sound, that’s air escaping the tire. The escaping air shouldn’t affect pressure substantially, unless you hold down the air pressure gauge too long.)
  4. Compare the measured psi to the psi found on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your vehicle or in your car’s owner’s manual. DO NOT compare to the psi on your tire’s sidewall.
  5. If your psi is above the number, let air out until it matches. If below, add air until it reaches the proper number.

How to Change a Flat Tire:

  1. You will first need the following:spare tire, lug wrench, tire jack and wheel chocks.Your spare tire is usually located in the trunk of your car, along with the tire jack.You can purchase a lug wrench and wheel chocks from your local automotive parts store.
  2. Make sure you are well off the highway, parked on a hard, level surface. Turn on your emergency flashers. Place the car in park, or if you have a stick shift place the transmission in first or reverse gear. Engage the parking brake.
  3. Locate and remove your spare wheel, lug wrench, tire jack, and wheel chocks.
  4. Remove the hub cap, if equipped, using the tapered end of the lug wrench. Using the other end of the lug wrench, loosen the lug nuts holding the wheel on. Do this while the wheel is still on the ground. All you are doing is loosening the nuts slightly; do not remove the lug nuts at this time.
  5. Block the wheel diagonally opposite the flat on both sides of the tire to keep the car from rolling while it is being jacked up.
  6. Place the jack underneath the car in the location specified in your owner’s manual. Not doing so may cause the car to fall off the jack, damaging the car and possible causing injury to you. Using the jack handle, jack up the car until the flattened wheel is completely off the ground.
  7. Finish loosening the lug nuts and completely remove them.
  8. Remove the wheel and set it aside.
  9. Install the spare wheel, lining it up over the wheel studs. Thread the lug nuts back onto the studs, installing the tapered end of the nut towards the wheel. Be careful not to cross thread the lug nuts. Hand tighten the lug nuts.
  10. Lower the car back to the ground. Using your lug wrench, tighten all of the lug nuts.
  11. Reinstall the hub cap. Put away the spare and all of your tools.You have now change/replaced a car tire!

Even though this article pertains to Car Tire Safety, Attorney Warren’s book entitled: A Crash Course in Virginia Automobile Injury Cases, is a great way to ensure that you protect your rights after any type of vehicle accident. To receive a free copy of the book, click the following link: A Crash Course in Virginia Automobile Injury Cases.

Although The Warren Firm is located in Charlottesville, VA, Vaden Warren accepts and tries cases from all over Virginia, including Richmond, Louisa, Tappahannock, Lynchburg, and many other surrounding cities and towns. If you or a loved one has been involved in a Virginia car accident, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (434) 972-9090 or visit our website at The Warren Firm.